Shroud Eater’s sludgy, doomy power on display on face-crushing EP ‘Dead Ends’


It’s the fourth of July, and we’re not taking the day off. If you’re an American, you’ll be drunk in a yard at some point today, potentially blowing off a hand with a sketchy firecracker, and you’ll want something that can match you drink for drink, bad decision for bad decision.

We’ll also work to keep this a little short today because we don’t want you hurting yourself trying to read a long essay about a band that you should just check out without me rambling at you, so get off your ass and get into some Shroud Eater. You like Kylesa but wish they were a little nastier? You like Mastodon before they wimped out and lost their balls? You like Uzala and pretty much hope nothing changes about them? Same with Jucifer? Then you’ll have time for this Miami-based trio that turns up the sludge power and crust agony to a point that your neighbors will wonder what you’re doing in your backyard once they hear these grimy, powerful, explosive noises (not fireworks).

ShroudEater-DeadEnds-webThe bad is back with “Dead Ends,” a new five-song, 28-minute EP that’s as fun and loose as it is molten and muddy. These three—Jeannie Saiz on guitars/vocals, Janette Valentine on bass and vocals, and Felipe Torres on drums—have been doing their thing quite well since forming in 2009, and they have one full-length to their credit, that being 2011’s “ThunderNoise,” that they self-released. This band’s sound is perfectly suited for warm, humid gatherings, but don’t for a second think that’s because their music is geared toward a meat-head contingent. It totally isn’t, as there are brains and tenacity behind what they do, so to underestimate that would be foolish. No, instead, while you’re watching smoke rising and your mind wandering, know that you’ll be doing so alongside a band that’s going to give you something to think about while you’re baking.

“Cannibals” opens the record with tribal drumming, feedback, and noisy doom that leads the way for the demolition that is “Sudden Plague.” That song lets noise simmer out of control, gruff vocals pepper you with power, and then it settles into a long stretch of power. Saiz and Valentine assault you with the dueling voices, and the rest of the band melts into a power-hungry chug. “Lord of the Sword” has a slow, doomy opening before voices start shouting at you and sludgy mud gets pelted at you from all angles. The song lumbers and melts, and the aggressive vocals should get your attention right away.

“Tempest” sounds like High on Fire going to war with Kylesa (especially with the trade-off vocals), and it’s the darkest song on the record. “The Star and the Serpent” is the stunning closer, and it actually takes a little while to get moving. It treads water its first few minutes, but suddenly it goes into space with clean guitars, a psychedelic polish, and vocals that sound like they were transferred from the cosmos after traveling light years with a message. Really cool finish that shows the band has many tricks up their sleeves.

Shroud Eater keep improving and progressing while maintaining all the savage goodness of their sound. This is a really strong, fun EP that’s heavy where it needs to be, melodic when that’s necessary. And it would make a fine soundtrack to your barbecue efforts today when you try to show your friends and loved ones how high you can get that grill fire going. Sit back and enjoy, but also don’t be afraid to think.

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