On paper, this sounds like it shouldn’t work. After all, if someone told you about a sludge band that had both crust-punk and Cascadian black metal edges to their sound, you’d think they were telling you about something horrid, and not in a good way. Yet rather than produce a mess, Macerie have combined those sounds to release an absolutely superb EP, one that takes the listener on a journey through the depths of the earth and to the heights of the stars. That it is sludge is undeniable, but this is the sound of a band walking their own path. It’s bewildering, soul-crushing, and absolutely fantastic.
Rather than rely on the standard sludge technique of being heavy and trusting that to be enough for your music to succeed, Macerie bravely add extra influences to their sound, creating something undeniably ugly, yet with moments of contrast that are strangely beautiful. When the band are slow, they are immensely heavy and oppressive, to the point where it is a small miracle that the sound does not collapse in on itself. But moments such as the stirring guitar line that can be heard in the background during the late half of “Agonia” stand in stark contrast, reaching out to space even as the bass and drums keep things grounded (and it has to be said, the bass has a really great, gnarly tone). The vocals are similarly excellent, the raw and hurt shouts and bellows lending an air of primitivism to proceedings. The effect is superlative leaving the listener a little breathless and with their head-spinning – it can take a few listens to fully process and appreciate exactly what the band have done on this EP.
The slower, more traditional sections are no less impressive, pulling you down in to the dirt with it to wallow in the filth, reminding you exactly why the genre is called sludge. The band never end up being monotonous though; even when everything is slow, the air is heavy with anticipation and an incredibly heavy vibe, suffocating the listener and refusing to let them go. And, it can’t be stressed enough, the aura to this album is heavy, with the moments of relative space highlighting just how crushing the rest of the EP is, though they are successful in their own right. The opening minutes of final track “La Luce Del Buio” are a prime example, bringing to mind both later-day Neurosis and Wolves In The Throne Room, before the band really let loose. The track rarely sits still over its six minute duration, moving through different tempos and emphasis, taking the listener on a journey -as does the EP as a whole.
And what a journey it is – this EP is a very intense listen, that asks a lot of the listener but that more than rewards them for their time and effort. This is music with real depth and nuance, full of ambition and more than succeeding in meeting its aims. I can’t wait to see what Macerie produce next, as this is an incredibly self-assured and creative debut, full of ideas and the talent and confidence to pull them off. Utterly, utterly superb.