16 – Deep Cuts from Dark Clouds

By Gruesome Greg

16’s reunion five years ago kinda flew under the radar. They had, after all, barely been broken up three years, and had largely stopped cranking out new material by the new millennium. Once mentioned in the same breath as Eyehategod and Grief, these L.A. (that’s Los Angeles, not Louisiana) sludgesters are virtually unknown to those who think Georgia produces the best sludge bands, and 2009’s comeback effort Bridges to Burn didn’t really raise their profile amongst the Mastodon set. But clearly, that’s not the audience they were after. And while it’s been another three years since their last record, it’s still safe to say their sounds are still hipster-proof.

That said, I’ll be damned if opening tune “Theme from ‘Pillpopper’” doesn’t recall the latest Crowbar and Suplecs records, albeit without the glossy production sheen of the former—or even the latter, for that matter. This is a dirty, ugly-sounding record, the way that sludge was intended to be. The album crawls along at a snail’s pace, with the downtuned chugging of “Parasite,” distorted hate-sludge grooves of “Her Little ‘Accident’” and angst-ridden attack of “The Sad Clown” serving as (lack of) speed bumps along the way. Man, even these song titles have that nostalgic odour of sludge’s first wave. (Personal favourite? “Bowels of a Baby Killer”…)

“Progressive post-sludge” this is not, as not a single one of the ten Deep Cuts on here exceeds 5 minutes in length. But if you’ve always been partial to the term slow-core, you’ll probably wanna give this one a listen.

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Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.