Label: Sludgelord Records
It’s great to see The Sludgelord branch out from writing about music in to releasing it via their newly formed label, Sludgelord Records. What’s even better is that they’ve picked such a great record to start off the label, with Dismal Planet from doom/sludge bruisers Coffin Torture. Dirty, loud, and oh-so heavy, Dismal Planet is the essence of what sludge should be. This is an album that, by the time it has finished, will leave the listener feeling somehow soiled, with the music seeping out of the speakers like an infection, contaminating all it touches with the most gruesome, glorious results.
In a lot of ways, Dismal Planet sounds like what the artwork looks like; only much, much darker. There’s a feast of death and decay to indulge in here, with slightly psychedelic vibes to some of the more hypnotic moments of the record. This aspect is only aided by the sheer amount of volume and heaviness on display – Dismal Planet has such weight, such gravity, that it somehow seems to bend space and time, with the 41 minute duration of the album somehow feeling both shorter and longer than it actually is. That Coffin Torture produce such extremes of noise as a duo only makes it that bit more impressive.
Remarkably, as well as being a perception-shifting whole, Dismal Planet also contains some very strong individual songs. Tracks such as opener ‘Bull of Minos’ have that mix of catchiness and absurd weight that defines much of the best sludge, whilst the relatively up-tempo moments of ‘Gustave’ bring to mind the dirtiest of old-school death metal – chiefly Obituary’s Slowly We Rot – along with the sludge classics. Elsewhere, third track ‘Bolted Down, Boiled to Grease’ is just as nasty as its title implies, its slowed-down, tar-heavy crawl being incredibly intimidating and unsettling.
If there were any complaint to be made about Dismal Planet, it’s that it doesn’t really do anything new with the sludge genre, and if the album doesn’t grab you in the right way, it can be difficult not to feel that you haven’t heard this kind of thing before, multiple times. Even so, it is hard to argue against such extremes of sonic depravity, and there’s a sense of warped passion and determination to Coffin Torture’s music that makes up for any lack of innovation. Any adherence to genre is clearly the result of deliberate choice, rather than because inspiration or talent was lacking.
As such, amongst all the discomfort and aggression-through-volume, there’s also a sense of familiarity to Dismal Planet, which helps make it an album that’s easy to sink in to, losing yourself within its blacker-than-black depths. Monstrously loud, marrying the raw power of its riff with that edge of melody that the best sludge possesses, Dismal Planet is ugly, muscular, and damaged in all of the right ways.
Dismal Planet is due for release on 16 February 2018. It can be pre-ordered on Bandcamp, on digital and CD formats.