Sepulchral Saturday is here at last and this time -(16)-‘s seventh full length Lifespan Of A Moth is the focus. It’s been a painfully long four years since their last full length but really this band has always operated on their own terms and good on them for not over saturating while keeping their fans clamoring for more. With the exception of two new members not much has changed for this California four piece. And really, nothing needs to change for this muscular sludge juggernaut either. They’ve seen plenty of internal change, but with this album and this lineup the band sound stronger than they have in years.
I’ve had a long history with this band, 20 years to be exact. I jumped on right as their second full length Drop Out was released. They had a strong AmRep feel to them, the bombast of Helmet and the obliterating destruction of Unsane. But it wasn’t just that, I had been listening to Eyehategod for awhile and could hear that same sludgy undertone bubbling just under the surface of -(16)-. Zoloft Smile ripped the lid off off of that approach as well as my all time favorite Bridges To Burn. And more than just the mix of sludge and noise, it’s the fact that they have always had this huge beefy sound and unique tone that to my ears is pitch perfect. Deep Cuts From Dark Clouds was a natural progression and now, Lifespan Of A Moth is yet another natural next step in the band’s now 25 year long career.
Pissed off riffage and Cris Jerue’s angered half yell-half growl continues to be the linchpin throughout these eight tracks. “The Morphinist” sounds like a bar brawl in slow motion, complete with broken teeth and bloody floors. “Secrets Of the Curmudgeon” keeps a solid rock pace throughout and with the multi tone bass work from Barney Firks, shades of the band’s noise rock influence shine through. But it’s the one two punch of “Landloper” and “Peaches, Cream and the Placenta” that hit the hardest. Showcasing the entirety of -(16)-‘s DNA, the former locks into a rollicking groove while the latter knocks the tempo down to a slow burn sludge. This pair of tracks are about as indicative of the band as you’re likely to find on any of their releases.
New members Firks and drummer Dion Thurman slip right into the groove, both make a huge impact while keeping the band’s sound fully intact. I’ve mentioned Firks’ bass work but Thurman’s drum sound is very full and sounds similar to standing front row at a show. It adds an extra punch and clarity to the already hefty mix of lifers Jerue and Brian Ferry. For me this album is — after I’ve spent much time with it — a very close second to Bridges To Burn. Given more time to grow it may slide up as a tie. What that means for you is that this is a ripper of a seventh effort from -(16)- and one that not only continues their sound and vision but makes the statement that they aren’t going anywhere nor are they slacking off. Not even a little bit.
On Lifespan Of A Moth, -(16)- continue their storied career of inimitable sludge and offer up their best album since 2009. There’s a certain level of maturity here, rather than going straight for the jugular the band opts to bask in their grooves a little longer, showing restraint when needed but still more devastating than most of their peers. If you dig sludge, noise and wicked tone but have yet to check out this band, now is the time to get on board. If you’re already familiar then you know what to expect and should by all means add this one to your collection.