Noothgrush / Coffins – Split (11 November 2013, Southern Lord Records)
Well, the long weekend is over (for a large number of readers: yesterday was Memorial Day in the U.S. and Spring Bank Holiday in the U.K.) and it’s time to return to boring, mundane reality. I’m sure it’s much more of a system shock for those of you who attended Maryland Deathfest this weekend. I’m still jealous of how many awesome bands you got to see over the past several days, though, so I don’t feel bad for you. For the rest of us, I’ve got some more music to share, which comes from some more bands that we missed out on seeing this weekend. This split LP, issued by Southern Lord several months back, serves as a nice little primer for two excellent sludge/doom bands — Noothgrush (who performed at MDF Saturday, 24 May) and Coffins (who were there Friday night)…
Oakland (CA)’s Noothgrush would probably be an equally unpleasant surprise, if found on your toothbrush, as their namesake character was in the beloved children’s book There’s a Wocket in my Pocket by Dr. Seuss. As grimy and nasty as you’d expect from the ‘sludge’ identifier, but the sound of the three songs on the first side of the split is less like the genre’s typical swampy brackish muck than perhaps the dried-out filth left in a deserted void where a boggy wetland formerly existed. If that makes any sense.
Maybe that idea was put into my head by the concept of the second of the band’s contributions to this record, which was one of my favorite moments of the whole thing: “Jundland Wastes” — which draws its inspiration from source material that has been frequently visited throughout the Noothgrush discography. Even if it weren’t for the iconic sampled sound of a bellowing Star Wars Sand Person that appears in several spots in the song, the overall tonality perfectly encapsulates the brutality of a vast desert beneath the oppressive heat of that world’s twin suns.
Coffins from Tokyo, Japan, add two more songs on the flip side of the LP. These demonstrate a similarly filthy aesthetic, while representing a very bass-heavy doom metal — not just because of the prominence of the distorted bass riff as the first track “Drown in Revelation” fades in, but also the overall mix, including the super-deep roared vocals. In general, this gives us a fine example of doom-death metal; the tracks are stuffed full of excellent doom riffs played in a down-tempo death metal style (somewhat reminiscent of how Six Feet Under sounded covering “Sweet Leaf” or how a similar version of “Into the Void” might sound). The songs trudge relentlessly onward, with a vibe of imminent danger and the apocalypse being nigh. I only wish I was more acquainted with Japanese popular culture as I write this, because surely there is some sort of comparison to be made with a large destructive force stomping its way through the lives of unsuspecting people.
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