Apparently this Los Angeles quartet have been spreading the Sludge mustard for over two decades now. Somehow I’ve missed out on them altogether. I guess there’s just too many bands and not enough time, or it could be that every time I’ve come across them, I simply thought, “Why the fuck would you name your band 16?!” and moved on. Tough to say, I can barely remember last week. Deep Cuts from Dark Clouds might be as good a place to start as any, however. Musically speaking, I really like what the band does. Basic, no-frills, dropped-D fretboard abuse with a deathbed-sick bass tone. It’s very heavy yet contained, simplistic yet sharp, barbaric yet slick… it’s essentially a squatter who hasn’t showered in a year, but with a couple splashes of Preferred Stock. Seriously though, there is some major Helmet and Unsane worship taking place here, yet it retains a thick coating of Sludge-infested grime. It isn’t easy to achieve the proper balance of refreshing and filthy. It’s the vocals that lose me. Cris Jerue doesn’t have the worst snarl in the world, but we’re talking over-the-top one-dimensional. No range, no bombast, no emotion, no payoff. Jerue falls short of Lemmy and ends up squarely in post-relevant Max Cavalera territory. A dull scream that sterilizes the music’s energy to the point of television static. (Can TVs even get static anymore? Fuck.) Tunes that coast this effortlessly on awesome-autopilot need lungs with balls. Looks like I haven’t been missing out on too much after all, but maybe I’ll catch them on tour with 8, 17, 33, and 24.
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