Sludge Metal

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Torche. Photo courtesy of the band's official Facebook page.

Torche. Photo courtesy of the band’s official Facebook page.

By Brandon Judeh (Music Reporter)

Most bands strive to get better with each album and tour, but few achieve this. Miami based Sludge Metal outfit, Torche, however, has.

Now four LP’s deep, the quartet, consisting of Steve Brooks (guitars, vocals), Jonathan Nuñez (bass), Rick Smith (drums) and Andrew Elstner (guitar, vocals), continues to evolve with each new album.

Nuñez said that every record is a snapshot of where the band was during that particular time period.

“I think every album showcases where we were during that two or three week period that we recorded the specific album, or what we were doing at that time,” said Nuñez.

Torche’s new album, Restarter, is just as sludgy as it’s predecessors, but shows the band maturing with poppy hooks and a broader sound. Though the album, which Nuñez said got its name because it connected well with the songs on the album, was released in February, the band laid the groundwork for it a year ago.

“This album is a little over a year old to us,” added Nuñez. “I feel this represents us very well and is a bit more sludgy than our other records. Our last record (Harmonicraft) was more up-tempo… A big reason why our records sound the way they do is because of our straight forward approach to song writing, we focus more on the power of each song.”

Restarter

Anyone who is a fan of the band will instantly love songs like “Bishop in Arms” and “Minions” as both are prime examples of Torche’s well-oiled rhythm section of Nuñez and Smith.

The duo has been playing together for more than 10 years and Nuñez said this is why the two are so tight musically.

“On the records our playing is more straight forward, but when we are on tour we open up our playing a little bit,” he said. “When we are playing live, we like to jam on a lot of the parts and leave room to embellish a bit.”

The jams will continue to roll as Torche is currently on tour (The band played Cleveland Height’s Grog Shop on March 17) through March. The group will then head to Europe for the entire month of May.

Though touring can sometimes be a drag, filled with little sleep and constant traveling, Nuñez and his band mates enjoy being out on the road and seeing friends, both new and old.

“We all love to tour, it’s great getting out and seeing old friends. From touring so many years we literally have friends all over the United States and overseas,” the bass player said. “It’s also great to hit up certain restaurants in different city’s and eat some great food and search around for some used gear.”

Playing shows in Europe though, is a whole different experience, from the culture to the food. But it’s something Nuñez said he always looks forward too doing, ever since he first played overseas back in 2006.

“It’s so exciting playing in Europe, it’s like a different world between the culture and the way people act. The food is amazing and it’s a great place to go exploring. What’s also neat is how we often will cross paths with a lot of different bands while over there and we try to check out their shows. We have had a ton of great experiences,” Nuñez said.

Checking out and listening to a wide variety of bands is nothing new for the men of Torche.

Their influences range from Sublime to African beats and classic rock to metal. Nuñez said that each member likes different kinds of music, but in the end it all blends together to make the bands signature sound.

Nuñez and company also happen to be a productive band; in fact, they are already three or four songs deep into their next record. Though they have no clue when the next album will happen, they are pleased with the head start.

“We started around January and have three, maybe four songs nailed down with some other jams we are playing around with,” said Nuñez. “A lot of our songs come together from jam sessions, we are a very productive band and are always writing and looking forward to the next stage.”

One of the main reasons the band keeps pushing forward is because of their fans, which have stuck with them from the start.

Perhaps the biggest show of support came after lead singer Steve Brooks came out as one of the few gay musicians in the “Metal” scene.

Brooks had no fear of any backlash, as he was certain he would have the support from his fans and band mates.

“Steve, along with the rest of the band, never received any kind of negativity over that. Obviously we all support him and so did our fans and people around the whole ‘metal scene’ or whatever you want to call it. We have a lot of great fans and open-minded people,” Nuñez stated.

“We have a lot of chill, liberal fans that come to our shows, at the end of the day, they don’t care about our sexuality or anything like that, they just care about the music and want to have a good time at the show.”

Restarter was released via Relapse Records and fans can visit their website torchemusic.com and play an exclusive 16-bit video game called Torche vs Robots: Annihilation Affair that features the band fighting robots.

Resinaut. Left to right, drummer C.J. Haden, guitarist Matt Servenack, singer Joe Sinkovich and bassist Lucas Goleb.

Resinaut. Left to right, drummer C.J. Haden, guitarist Matt Servenack, singer Joe Sinkovich and bassist Lucas Goleb.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

As so goes the story of the Northeast Ohio music scene, as one musical titan falls, another rises in its place. Tighter. Meaner. And ready to take the scene into the next level. That is exactly the case Resinaut; Youngstown’s newest and grittiest arrival.

Resinaut brings a familiar sound with an added dynamic. Their unique blend of Sludge, Stoner and Acid Rock are capped off with a hint of the blues and a refreshing catchiness that is no easy feat in the said genres. Reminiscent of the Desert Rock scene of the early 90’s (including acts like Sleep and Kyuss), and with a nod to local sludge legends like Rebreather and Centrifuge, the band is quickly and proudly leading the pack of one of the area’s many most beloved sub-scenes.

The summer of 2014 saw several changes to staples along the area’s scene, with the unfortunate demise of Full Moon Canoe and Chapless Larry. However, from chaos bred creation, and the seeds were immediately planted for the birth of Resinaut.

“Matt (Servenack, guitar) actually brought us all together. Chapless Larry and Full Moon Canoe broke up on the same day, and then he called me,” said lead vocalist Joe “Joebob” Sinkovich.

“I put an ad up on Facebook, which rarely works, but Lucas responded within hours. We jammed once back in March with all of these same riffs. So when we all got together, he knew most of these riffs alreay,” added guitarist Matt Servenack.

The result was something hardly anyone could have expected. Resinaut formed, comprised of Sinkovich (ex-Chapless Larry) and Servenack (ex-Full Moon Canoe, Centrifuge) with bassist Lucas Goleb (ex-Mountains of Mars) and drummer C.J. Haden (Mississippi Gun Club).

The musical chemistry is not only present, but at the very forefront of the music itself. Songs like “Sleepwalker” and “Halt” perfectly showcase a band that is not only into their art, but having fun at the same time.

“It all really fell together real fast and real easy. Seven songs in two months,” said Sinkovich.

Goleb explained that despite close proximity and frequently crossing paths, this is the first time he has actually gotten to play with these musicians.

“C.J. and I are actually from the same general area, a few miles from one another. And we’ve always almost played in bands together. I’d go see his band or they would play with our band,” said Goleb.

Resinaut Shows

On Sept. 20, Resinaut exploded onto the scene, playing for a packed house on Supporting Your Local Music‘s one year anniversary party. Their high-energy assault of droning heavy metal and post-rock atmospheres hit right-to-the-point with instant crowd favorites “Oh Captain” and “Sleepwalker.” Other songs like “Halt” and “Through His Eyes” indicated the band’s unique chemistry, making the debut just as excited for the fans as it was for the band. The following week, they land a high-profile second gig opening for national touring act and Sludge legends Jucifer at the famous Now That’s Class in Cleveland.

Resinaut will mark their return to the area this Saturday, Oct. 18, at Cedars West End. From there, they will hit Chipper’s on Nov. 1 and perform in Erie, Peensylvania and Canton, Ohio by year’s end.

They are optimistic and indicated that they’re looking forward to reaching new audiences everywhere they play.

“People are still searching for something,” said Haden. “There’s a lot of good heavy music out there, it’s just nobody’s caught it yet.”

Lastly, they explained that they are big supporters of the local scene and are encouraging their peers to keep on writing, pushing and performing.

“It’s a good time for local music. We like to see diversity one these shows. No one wants to sit through four bands of the same kind of music, we like to see different bands helping each other out and hope to continue to see the scene grow,” said Sinkovich.

Resinaut will be performing at Cedars West End in Youngstown on Oct. 18 with The Days Before Empires, Baroque Monody and Cvttvnmvvth.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Floor

Artist: Floor

Album: Obliation

Release Date: 4/29/14

Rating: 9/10

It’s been 12 long years since the world got their last taste of Florida-based Sludge act, Floor. The band stunned the underground metal and alternative community with their 2002 self-titled debut, only to disband two years later. Although the album and band were a little-known gem of that scene at the time, the years have been kind to Floor as word-of-mouth has garnered a strong cult following. This year, they return with their follow-up, Oblation.

Oblation picks up right were the band left off in 2004, offering an array of slamming down-tuned riffs and juxtaposed with soaring harmonious vocals. Unlike many others in the underground realm, Floor manage to maintain a balance of slamming guttural sludge metal with an almost knack for pop hooks strewn throughout.

Kicking off with the menacing title track, Oblation is ripping from the start. Tracks like “Rocinate,” “The Key” and “Love Comes Crushing” find a unique balance of dark brooding tones while remaining upbeat. Other cuts like “The Quill,” “War Party” and “Sign of Aeth” are almost more characteristic of Sludge metal, sounding somewhat along the lines of Jucifer.

Despite the overwhelming heaviness of Oblation, there is much more than meets the eye, or perhaps ear, to Floor’s music. There is an aesthetic more in tune with punk and alternative, as Floor often put their metal credibility on the line on Oblation, channeling something deeper. The heaviness is more about a feel, a mood, rather than a style. In some cases, the album may appeal more to fans of punk (and unfortunately hipsters) than fans of modern metal.

Oblation sounds as a natural progression for a band who may have left before the party got started. With a resurgence of Sludge/Doom/Stoner metal swarming through the underground, the timing couldn’t be more perfect for Floor to make a hopefully permanent comeback.

Melvins. Left to right, singer/guitarist Buzz "King Buzzo" Osbourne, bassist Dale Crover and drummer Mike Dillard.

Melvins. Left to right, singer/guitarist Buzz “King Buzzo” Osbourne, bassist Dale Crover and drummer Mike Dillard.

By Rick Pollo (Editor-in-Chief)

In the early 1980s, not many could have predicted that Seattle would be Generation X’s Liverpool in terms of a rock and roll renaissance. Sure, groups like the late-60s garage rockers The Sonics and 70s arena champions Heart call the city home, but a collective scene was yet to put Seattle on the rock and roll map.

By 1984, hardcore punk outfit Black Flag released there slowed down, Black Sabbath-inspired album, My War. The same year, bands like Swans and Flipper began to emerge, also introducing a slower and chunkier approach to aggressive angst-ridden punk rock. This sound was clearly ahead of its time, but left a considerable impression on the likes of Seattle outfits Green River, Soundgarden and the Melvins.

Originally formed as a hardcore punk band, the Melvins quickly emerged as one of Seattle’s most influential and ambitious acts by the mid 80s. Their unique blend of punk rock ethos, sludging heavy riffs and experimental tendencies helped spark a musical movement that would come to be known as “grunge.” Lead singer and guitarist Buzz Osbourne once stated that the band’s sound was “Black Sabbath-meets-Captain Beefheart.” Undoubtedly a perfect summation of Seattle’s perhaps most unsung and influential grunge act.

By the late 80s, the Melvins’ influence among the Seattle scene was blatantly obvious. Groups like Tad, Mudhoney, Alice in Chains, Mother Love Bone and Nirvana all were experimenting with drop tuning and searching for the heaviest and muddiest guitar tones they could find. For a moment, Seattle provided a renaissance in rock and roll, and the paradigm shifted. Over produced balladry was out, and noisy, angry punk and alternative was in. With the success of Nirvana’s Nevermind and several of the Seattle bands finding major label deals and mainstream success, the Melvins were at an epicenter of a movement. However, there break wasn’t easy.

As Seattle bands were getting signed left and right, the Melvins further pursued their musical ambition, shifting deeper into left field and away from what grunge had came to be known as, in the mainstream at least. They went heavier and sludgier, proving to have more in common with doom metal than Lollapalooza. Still, predecessors like Kurt Cobain continued to site their influence and eventually, the mainstream took notice. By 1993, at the height of the grunge scene, the Melvins signed their first major label record deal with Atlantic Records, and recorded their masterpiece, Houdini.

Houdini was unique in several ways. Much to the band’s dismay, it will probably always serve as the go-to starting point for the band. Sure, earlier albums like Bullhead and Lysol are classics in their own right. But Houdini is the first creative peak in an ever-climbing career of innovation.

Originally set to be produced by Kurt Cobain, Houdini is one of the most primal and raw, sophisticated and heavy and underrated alternative releases of the 90’s. Kicking off with droning doom riff of “Hooch,” it is immediately evident that the Melvins were not going for the sounds of Nevermind or Ten, but something more along the lines of the first records from Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath. Signature sludge tracks like “Night Goat,” “Lizzy” and “Honey Bucket” serve as templates for nearly every doom, sludge and stoner rock act that followed, making even Kyuss sound like The Spin Doctors.

Houdini also has it’s share of quark. An unlikely cover of Kiss’ “Goin’ Blind” sounds nothing like the original, yet ultimately caught the eye of Gene Simmons, who often performed the track with the band during the time of its release. Tracks like “Sky Pup,” “Hag Me” and “Copache” are well representations of the band’s experimental side, an aspect of their sound they would also later explore and expand upon.

Commercially, the Melvins were never quite able to top the success of Houdini. Artistically, it was only a launching pad.

As fellow Seattle acts spend the later half of the 90’s and early 00’s dominating rock radio, the Melvins dug deeper into the underground, earning a very loyal following. Despite their lack of commercial exposure, critically acclaimed records like Stoner Witch and Honky resonating hard with their dedicated fan base.

By the late-90’s they were dropped from Atlantic Records but eventually signed to Mike Patton’s Ipecac Recordings. From there, a golden age of experimentation ensued. In 2003, they collaborated with ambient artist Lustmord for the Pigs of the Roman Empire LP and in 2004-05, they collaborated with Dead Kenndys frontman Jello Biafra and Tool guitarist Adam Jones for the LPs Never Breathe What You Can’t See and Seig Howdy! After a successful period of collaboration, they returned to their roots for the sludgy and trippy Senile Animal in 2007.

This year, the Melvins celebrate two milestones: The 20th anniversary of their landmark Houdini and 30th anniversary together. They chose to celebrate in true Melvins fashion by releasing two artistic achievements within the same year. Earlier this year, they dropped a collection of covers titled Everybody Loves Sausages featuring reworkings of tracks by artists as diverse as Queen, Venom, Throbbing Gristle, The Kinks, David Bowie and Lead Belly. Their latest jaw-dropper, Tres Cabrones, was released in October.

As the Melvins enter their fourth decade, they show no signs of slowing their innovative sound. That innovation has proven very influential, with sound that is impossible to properly categorize. Not only has Kurt Cobain and members of Tool announced their love for the trio, but contemporary players like Mastodon, Crowbar, EYEHATEGOD and The Dillienger Escape Plan have all sworn by the Melvins.

As trends came and went, artists risen and fallen, they continue forward, in a linear but upward direction, blowing minds and provoking thoughts at every peak.