A LESSON IN OLD SCHOOL SLUDGE
“Sludge metal generally combines the slow tempos, heavy rhythms and dark, pessimistic atmosphere of doom metal with the aggression, shouted vocals and occasional fast tempos of hardcore punk” ~ The definition of Sludge metal according to Wikipedia. Dirty, aggressive, angry, filthy and violent with an attitude that showed a penchant towards decadence was what sludge, as its name suggests was supposed to be. It was a canvas that gained massive popularity as it was the music of the rebels who were anti-system and which managed to be a voice of the voiceless displaying the feelings they had towards society. It basically was the attitude of hardcore punk amplified a million times. However, as time went on the music scene progressed rapidly, the defining traits of what was known as sludge were slowly lost and it turned into an easy listening, uplifting genre. Whereas you earlier had bands which boasted names like EyeHateGod, Acid Bath and Sea Of Deprivation, those were replaced by bands with names like Pelican. You get my point. Enter Naga (formerly known as Kill the Easter Rabbit), a trio from the land of doom, Italy to show us what sludge was supposed to sound like with all its abrasive, headstrong, and destructive glory.
In mid January the band released their self titled debut EP which consisted of 2 tracks and lasted 23 minutes. The word ‘Naga’ is Sanskrit for snake and according to Hindu mythology the snakes were of virulent poison, great prowess and excess of strength, and ever bent on attacking those who dared to pass their way. This pretty much is a summation of their music. Right from the album opener ‘The Path’ you are treated to a tsunami of grimy slush of an atmosphere which with feedback fuelled and suffocatingly heavy atmosphere is an instant throwback to the “Through Silver in Blood” days of Neurosis. Much as the band name suggests, this isn’t a band that will use long post rock influenced passages to create an evocatively beautiful landscape, but is one that with its dense riffs, shadowy atmosphere and hypnotic drumming shows its proclivity towards slithering away from the human eye in the deep, shadowy caverns where no light shines. The band doesn't mind baring its venomous fangs with its sharp riffs, screamed vocals and tumultuous song writing. Though elements of space rock and psychedelia add a few hues to the band so as to make it a varied listen, the bands true prowess lies in their innate talent to make each phase of each track flow fluently with its gargantuan riffs and atmosphere of unease, a trait which is atypical on the track ‘Vitriol’. The way the band manages to build a fragile atmosphere and then smash it into a million bits with an earthquake of breathtakingly elephantine soundscapes is something that sludge has been missing for a while.
This impressive debut is a statement and a a huge middle finger to the new age post metal bands and shows them what sludge is supposed to sound like. At times I felt that they restrained themselves a bit , but they are a new band. Such an aural onslaught has been a rare experience in modern sludge and for that I laud these guys. Looking forward to more from them.
SCORE - 71/100