In Dante’s Inferno, the second circle begins the proper punishment of Hell, a place where “no thing gleams.” It is reserved for those overcome with Lust, where carnal appetites hold sway over reason. In Nine Circles, it’s where we do shorter reviews of new (ish) albums that share a common theme.
It’s been a while since we put one of these out, huh? I always like to use Second Circles to check out artists I’ve never heard of before, or explore genres or styles that are relatively unfamiliar to me. In this case I took a look at the promo list and picked two bands I had no exposure to that carried in their promo the label of sludge, since I’ve been so gung-ho over the latest from -(16)-.
Do these bands help scratch that sludge itch? This edition of Second Circle aims to find out with new releases from Of Wolves and IRN…
It may have been a long and arduous road for Of Wolves to follow up their 2013 debut evolve, but man: Balance was worth the wait. The Chicago band blend a fury of sludge, punk, hardcore and crust into a fireball of righteous indignation and fury at a world gone mad with hate. Earlier in the year they released the nine minute barrage “Clear Cutting/Bloodshed/Heart To Hand” and it was the perfect encapsulation of what to grab from the album: different styles clash together and bludgeon your head until you’re up thrashing and stomping along to the feast of riffs.
The remainder of the album is more compact, shattering the china shop with punishing attacks like opener “Men Rea (Izaguf)” and “Maker” or just ripping your head off with razor-sharp hardcore punk like the 18-second “Flavor of the Week” or late album favorite “Inside.” The title track promises something more somber and contemplative until it rips your face off. This is the kind of music I can get behind 100%.
Sitting alone and destitute on the other side of the sludge equation creeps the befouled and fungus-laden corpse of IRN, whose self-titled EP luxuriates in filthy, near funeral doom sludge over the course of two tracks and 23 minutes. Opener “Blood Seeping From Your Eyes” is the slightly more spry of the two tracks, shambling forth with some nasty fuzzed out low end and a guttural scream that can only come from the bottom of a sewer. Somehow, “Forever Miserable” slows things down another notch, and manages to reach new levels of despair even as you get some twisted sense of melody in the guitars.
There are, according to the promo, touches of influence from bands like Noothgrush and Corrupted, but the name that came to my mind was Carnivore, particularly on the first track. Underneath the sludge and doom there’s a thin veneer of “F— You” punk that really gives it a punch. If you feel like you want to hear from the devils in the bowels of the earth, this is going to be your evil jam.
Until next time, keep it heavy…keep it safe.