Sludge metal is an extreme style of music that originated through combining elements of doom metal, stoner and hardcore metal. It generally features slow tempos, heavy rhythms, dark atmospheres and abrasive sounds. Some sludge metal bands – in particular those from the United States – often incorporate Southern rock influences. This is a kind of music that I really adore, and fortunately there are a number of relatively new and promising bands which are specializing in such type of sounds and producing excellent works. The year 2017, in particular, has been definitely important for this genre of metal and we have in fact some important albums that will leave a clear mark for a long time.
I’m presenting in this list the five best sludge metal albums that have been released this year. You could find within the list a few bands that you don’t know, the recommendation in this case is to listen to the available songs because these are very good albums and they are for sure worth a try.
#1) House of the Dead by Ordos
Ordos is an incredible Swedish stoner-doom band which released early this year their second album, House of the Dead. The LP follows their 2013’s debut. As the band says in their bandcamp page, the album is evidently inspired by the underground stoner genre and the songs are typically characterized by a trashy stoner-doom with elements from black metal and bluesy psychedelia.
I’ve fallen in love with this work since the first guitar riff of the first song the album (The Infernal God), and the positive impression remained unchanged after many and many other listens of the entire work.
The songs of this LP feature a lot of elements that are reminiscent of ’70 rock and ’90 metal (the final part of the title track borrowed the riff from Faith No More), but what’s really impressive of the disc is the enjoyable heaviness of all the melodies that are fitted into the 6 tracks of the album. It’s a wall of sounds that wraps you up but without tearing you down, energy and dark riffs.
That’s slowly becoming one of the favourite albums of the year, well beyond the musical genre where it belongs. Definitely recommended.
The group manages to develop a style of their own, and an intelligent sense of originality is inserted within the wider cosmic sense of musicality that follows their genuine melodic intuition, predisposed over a bright sonorous sensibility, that represents everything the genre has, at its wilder considerations. (Merchants of Air)
#2) Prologue by Poseidon
Poseidon are a new doom & sludge band from London, in the UK. This quartet of Londoners have recently released their debut album, named Prologue, which is an excellent sign of what can become their future career.
This album consists of four long, hypnotic and immersive tracks. The first five minutes of the opening track (The Beginning, The End, The Colony) basically display everything you’re going to listen throughout the entire LP: prolonged notes, heavy rythms, and a total sense of oppression.
Despite being the first work of this new formation, these guys have a clear idea on their roadmap. Prologue, as the name suggests, is declared in fact as a first chapter of a larger musical saga, of which this album constitutes just the initial piece. If these are the premises, we really look forward to the sequel to the story! This is in fact an impressive start of a very promising band.
Varied, ambitious, absorbing, and engaging; Prologue is an impressive and compelling listen. Poseidon have done themselves proud with this album. Prologue is sure to win the band a lot of admirers from fans of the style, as well as jealousy from lesser bands who are undoubtedly wondering how they make this look so easy. (Wonderbox Metal)
#3) Emperor of Sand by Mastodon
Emperor of Sand, the most recent album released by American stoner veterans Mastodon, has been already mentioned here as one of the best metal publications of the year. And this is basically the reason for which – despite being more oriented to the stoner and hard rock parts of the sludge world – this album is strongly keeping its position among the top three sludge metal releases of the year.
One of the last video that they shared (Steambreather) is in my opinion a very good example of their sludge & southern roots, much more than the catchy and funny Show Yourself, which was the first single extracted from the album.
Im more general terms, Emperor of Sand looks like two albums in one single disc. The work starts with the most aggressive, direct and live-oriented songs, and then proceeds with the more complex, slow and sludgy tracks. The overall quality of the album, in any case, it’s very high. With their unique and strong mix of progressive and stoner rock, Mastodon has become today one of the preeminent metal acts of the early 21st century, gaining also a sort of mainstream success with some of their most accessible songs.
Metal needed this album. It needed a record that’s doomy, heavy and magnificently multilayered, and Mastodon’s seventh album is exactly that. (NME)
#4) Children of the Haze by Dopelord
Children of the Haze is the new studio effort by Polish stoner doom quarted Dopelord, and it’s the third entry of their discography since they were formed in 2010. The music of Dopelord is an oppressively slow and psychedelic trip into heavyness. As they say on their bandcamp page, their music is inspired by “old movies, 70s music and magical herbs“. And indeed this is probably the most hallucinated album on the list.
One of he main characteristics of this group – and which is also one of the main elements of the sludge genre – is their capability to be heavy and beautiful at the same time. In the special case of Dopelord, this element is further enhanced by the dreamy clean vocals and the slow and the incredible atmospheres they manage to create with guitars and some light touches of keyboards and synthesizers.
To remain indifferent at the powerful riffs of the songs of this album is really difficult, that’s another masterpiece of sludge that hook you with its memorable, slow and hypnotic melodies.
Dopelord’s third album airs its aspirations without hesitation and shows enough confidence and chemistry in their riff craft to blow most of their competitors out of the water. The riffs are heavy, but the care taken in the songwriting is what makes this an album worth coming back to, even if you know exactly what it’s doing. (Sputnik Music)
#5) Trelu by Fallow
Fallow is a metal band from Southern France formed in 2010. Trelu (which means “Full Moon” in the old language of Southern France) is their second album and it’s basically a live session that the quartet recorded at the Darius Milhaud Conservatory of Music of Aix en Provence, France. This work follows their previuous LP, Werra (“Controversy”), published a couple of years ago.
The music played by Fallow is an interesting version of post metal with many elements of sludge and psychedelic metal. There are in fact a number of moments in Fallow‘s songs where the walls of heavyness and the poderous guitar riffs leave room for more rarefied and dreamy atmospheres; but it’s usually a short breath, a small parenthesis of delicacy before the powerful headline notes of the song return.
As the band writes on their social media pages, the songs in Trelu are about witchcraft and legends in Southern France.
In this moment, the album may be purchased for only 1€ in their bandcamp page.