When it comes to something dark, heavy, bizarre, but promising genre, then we are talking about Sludge, a genre that for many is still considered underground.
One of its most profound characteristics is the intense vocals, powerful melody changes, and a sinister and often pessimistic atmosphere, (an element inherited by Doom metal).
It is also influenced by hardcore punk-metalcore and crust, where aggression, screaming, and speed are their main features.
Another interesting element of sludge is the (almost complete) absence of guitar solo, making it stand out more clearly than other metal sub-genres.
The drumming, on the other hand, is performed with the typical doom metal way.
Sludge was born in America (the late 1980s), but during the last few years, it has grown a lot, therefore winning the respect and love of more and more fans of the extreme sound all over the world.
Through the years, sludge music became inseparably linked to the doom genre, leading to the birth of doom/sludge.
During the ’80s, a band from Seattle opened the door – I’d say without hesitation – for grunge to unravel its first creations.
I refer to the Melvins who introduced us to a brand new and marvelous sound with the releases of the EP “Six Songs” (1986) and their debut album, “Gluey Porch Treatments” (1987).
Melvins, are widely considered as the “fathers” of the sludge sound but they have also had a huge influence on stoner doom, experimental, and drone metal.
However, Neurosis is one of the bands that followed the steps of Melvins and perhaps grew even bigger than them.
A band from Oakland who was described as a raw and wild hardcore punk group in their early years and they have now become a legendary band;
Not only in the doom/sludge genre but in the whole worldwide metal scene.
By releasing albums such as “Through Silver in Blood“, “Times of Grace“, “Locust Star“, “The Eye of Every Storm“, they have laid the strongest foundations for the next generations to come.
From then on, it was a matter of time for sludge music to evolve and grow.
Bands such as the legendary Isis along with Acid Bath, Eyehategod, Crowbar, Soilent Green, and Goatwhore.
Each left their own mark and gave their own touch by enhancing the power of their music, lowering the speed of the genre, but at the same time that was what allowed the doom/sludge genre to grow even more.
Of course, there are some bands in the new doom/sludge music, which are almost perfect examples of the common phrase: “The student overcame the teacher“.
Cult of Luna
One of these bands is Cult of Luna. The Swedes are never afraid to experiment and this is accurately proven through their music.
Starting out as pure sludge, they introduced atmospheric post-metal sounds in their songs, while also using elements from progressive metal.
Their album “Vertikal” is one of the most important albums in the history of the genre with the band’s most distinctive features clearly heard all through the album.
And, surely, their collaboration with Julie Christmas in “Mariner” can’t be left out. In “Mariner” the band combined the wild and extreme atmosphere of sludge along with the hypnotic charm of Julie’s voice.
However, during this decade, (from the end of the ’90s to be more exact), there is one band that comes instinctively to the mind of anyone who hears the words “doom and sludge” together.
For most people, the main representing band of the doom/sludge genre nowadays, are the Belgians Amenra; a band that has managed to climb to the top.
Founders of the “Church of Ra” collective, along with bands such as Oathbreaker, The Black Heart Rebellion, Treha Sektori, Syndrome, manage to make you stand in awe.
A band that, with each new release, seems to grow bigger and bigger and each time overcome itself; a band that cannot be easily categorized to a specific genre.
As the band’s singer Colin H. Van Eeckhout, said to R1 Vibes:
“We don’t consider ourselves a sludge band. We draw inspiration from every kind of music that speaks from the heart. Bloodriven passion. No styles of boundaries. “
Colin H. Van Eeckhout on R1 Vibes
Each live performance of Amenra is an experience which cannot be easily described with words, rather than the feelings and the images their songs make you feel in your soul and your mind.
One can try to express the personal experience coming from their most recent live show:
Through each and every note they play you feel this lasting redemption in your soul, and only when this ends can you realize what you heard and what you felt. And when this ends, you desperately want more.
The doom/sludge genre is constantly growing and evolving, and that can only be for the best for the genre and for the extreme metal sound in general.
It is a genre that consists of the aforementioned sludge “giants” as well as bands such as Converge, Sumac, Old Man Gloom, Peilcan, Minsk, Whores; these being just a few of the bands that are on the front line nowadays. This genre, this sound just can not fail.
The sky is the limit…