Thursday, 30 January 2014

Buzzherd - On Sinking Ships ... Rats Drown (album review)


Buzzherd makes me think of pirates.  Though they’re five landlubbers from Pennsylvania, the combination of their sludge / thrash sound and album title just does it for me.  I suspect that while the rest of us are out “finding ourselves”, these guys are busy swashbuckling from chandeliers.  That’s not say that this is all cute fun and games, there’s hell to pay on this record.  It’s easy to get lost on this sinking ship, the band pulls you down in a quagmire of syncopated song structures as the sludge levels rise past the knees and up to the chest while your arms thrash about looking for a way out, but never find one.  Before you know it … glub, glub, glub … you’ve been drowned and swashbuckled.

I’m not sure what a “typical” sludge album consists of, but I know you won’t find it here.  Buzzherd bulrushes the listener, after a mighty drag ‘em out, knock ‘em down struggle, they crash the gates and storm the altar.  After a short count-in, the band launches immediately into the verse of opening track “Abuse of Despair”, keelhauling the listener through the mud before raising topsail and hitting a 20+ knots pummeling of double time drums and slashing guitars, moving from strength to strength.

Roaring vocals and churning rhythms make the head swim, ‘On Sinking Ships …’ is not an album for those afflicted with motion sickness.  Never relying on atmosphere alone, there’s always something going on in this record, each track is a constant builder and all five of them are excellent.  But through all the busy-ness and twisting tempos, the riffs remain deliberate and the structures remain methodical.  Pure aggression is the guiding light here and tension is built and held up to the breaking point at every turn.

Album centerpiece “The Maloik” has a Slayer feel without going overboard, this is hell on the high seas.  A pandaemonic main riff, a slow build-up of pounding wave crashing atmosphere from the drums and menacing vocals make this a true standout track.  It’s the one I’ve been keying on every time I listen to this album, it’s a moody, dynamic builder and its infernal heat is more than enough to lather the sweat under my mustache.

This is non-hipster metal for those unashamed by their own negative emotions.  This is cathartic music loaded with riffs and moments.  This is a mysterious recording because it’s unclear how one plays guitar and drums with hooks for hands.  Just press play on the player below and let the headbanging commence.

Highlights include: "The Maloik" and "Indrid Cold"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 28:11

From: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Genre: Sludge Metal, Thrash, Doom

Reminds me of: Breathe Fire, Crowlord, Diesel King, Hollow Leg, Vykanthrope

Release Date: December 10, 2013

Buzzherd on facebook

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