I’m sure I’m revealing no secrets when I say there is a hell of a lot of sludge metal out there. There’s so much of it that when I try to think of bands off the top of my head (other than obvious veterans), I can’t.
While I’m sure that makes no sense to most of you, it does to me. The bands kind of cake together in my head, and I have a really difficult time pulling out names to cite as reference points because they all seem practically the same to me. Case in point, a friend of mine asked me recently to cite some good sludge bands so she could go find some new stuff to buy. My instant reaction in my brain was, “Uhhhh….” I need to work in this. It’s easy to rattle off older bands and the subgenre’s pioneers, but as far as newer acts, it’s a fruitless cause.
This leads us to today’s subject matter, North Carolina’s Sourvein, and their new full-length effort “Black Fangs,” out now on Candlelight, a label not exactly known for a roster full of this kind of stuff. So that makes Sourvein stand out on among Candlelight’s other acts because they don’t sound like anyone else on the label’s lineup at the moment. But that isn’t the only reason they’re a powerful signing for Candlelight. Sourvein’s also ridiculously good and awfully heavy, and they are one of the sludge bands that always stands out in my head.
Now, it’s not like Sourvein are a bunch of newcomers. They’re not. They released their first material way back in 1996 on a split effort with Buzzov*en, a band from which they took part of the sludge torch, and they didn’t register their first full-length until 2000’s “Salvation,” which featured in the lineup guitarist Liz Buckingham, who went on to become an integral part of doom metal crushers Electric Wizard. She also was on their only other complete album (until now), 2002’s “Will to Mangle,” and from that point, the band put out a slew of EPs and split efforts over the next nine years. “Imperial Bastard,” Sourvein’s 2008 EP, was the first released by Candlelight, and now we get “Black Fangs,” the third record of the band’s long career, one that features a totally different lineup than their earlier work, with only guitarist/vocalist Troy “T-Roy” Medlin left standing as an original member. That’s a pretty rough history I just supplied there, but it gives you a bit of an idea of where this band has been.
So again, it’s not like Sourvein are fresh-faced rookies, but they haven’t really had the profound effect on metal that they probably should have. Their music’s always been solid and crushing, and their new effort “Black Fangs” is no different. But for every reference to Eyehategod or Crowbar or The Melvins or Buzzov*en, there don’t seem to be as many name drops for Sourvein as there should be. Perhaps this new 10-track effort will serve to change all of that and establish these guys once and for all. At the very least, it should put them alongside currently operating bands such as Weedeater, Hail! Hornet, and Black Tusk as go-to acts keeping the sludge spirit alive and acting as the new standard-bearers.
The albums kicks off with a muddy, feedback-rich start on “Fangs,” as they ease into an evil, Black Sabbath-style groove, that leads right into the stomping, slow-driving pounding of “Society’s Blood.” “Holy Transfusion” lets their metallic fire-breathing tendencies rush to the surface, as a maddening gallop erupts, and T-Roy howls maniacally at you; “Nomadic” leans on a bluesy groove, and the vocals somehow find a way to become more vicious; and “Gemini” grows out of a thick bass intro and evolves with strong lead riffing and psychological carnage. As good as these songs are, Sourvein really shine when they go a bit more epic – for them, anyway. Six-minute “Night Eyes” feels like a million doom-encrusted hammers dropping onto your chest at once, as it slowly, calculatingly unfurls its intent, while closer “Nocturnal/Negative Phaze” manages to inject some psychedelic tripping and spacey gaze into an otherwise mangling piece.
There’s just so much sinewy stuff here in which to sink your teeth, and their drubbing pace will keep you nodding your head at will with their thrashy melodies. This is just a damn good record that strengthens an already steady Sourvein catalog. Also, as noted, this record should help them capture a larger audience since this style of music has become so damn prevalent as of late, so next time you go see the Sourvein live, don’t be surprised if you find yourself packed a little more snugly than you were in the past. These guys certainly deserve it.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.myspace.com/sourvein13
To buy “Black Fangs,” go here: http://www.candlelightrecordsusa.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=1000&osCsid=926a5819f42fc7fffe328cdef575b297
For more on the label, go here: http://www.candlelightrecordsusa.com/
If you want to check the band live, and you should, here are their upcoming tour dates:
July 6: Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA w/ Jucifer
July 7: Heirloom Arts – Danbury, CT w/ Jucifer
July 8: St. Vitus – Brooklyn, NY
July 9: Popeye’s – Peekskill, NY
July 10: Big Jar – Rochester, NY
July 11: Sidebar – Baltimore, MD
July 12: Now That’s Class – Cleveland, OH w/ Nachtmystium
July 13: Mac’s – Lansing, MI w/ Nachtmystium
July 14: 31st St Pub – Pittsburgh, PA
July 15: Ravari Room – Columbus, OH
July 16: Volrath – Indianapolis, IN
July 17: Pyramid – Grand Rapids, MI
July 18: Frank’s Power Plant – Milwaukee, WI
July 19: The Empty Bottle – Chicago, IL w/ Nachtmystium
July 20: Fubar – St. Louis, MO
July 21: TBA
July 22: The Hideaway – Johnson City, TN
July 23: Ground Zero – Spartanburg, SC