Now, I gotta say, I’m a pretty big fan of NOLA-style sludge metal. (EHG FTW!) But while Lafayette, Louisiana might just be a couple hours away from New Orleans, these native sons are several more miles removed from Crowbar or Eyehategod—while still clearly inhabiting within the stoner/doom subgenre. The second record from Forming the Void sounds more like Sleep mixed with Torche, filtered through some pre-mainstream Mastodon. But I might not have given ‘er a listen if the band was from, say, Idaho… (Uzala FTW, though!)
This eight-song effort runs nearly an hour, clocking in just over 55 minutes. From the get-go, we’re greeted with “After Earth,” at almost eight minutes, which combines the middle-eastern meditational grooves of OM and the bludgeoning cosmic heaviness of Zoroaster, with clear, clean vocals soaring above the fray. “Endless Road” drops a heavy, southern doom riff into the mix right away, sounding sorta like Lo-Pan or Borracho in super-slow-mo. “Biolazar” is almost equally lengthy as its predecessor, but just a tad more up-tempo, reminding me of some of the heavier stuff from Torche’s Meanderthal record.
The title track is a heavy seven-minute slab of melodic, sludgy goodness, with the vocals really elevating several drawn-out notes above a thick, slow and swampy platter of riffage. It takes an interesting little detour around the two-minute mark, sounding sorta like instrumentational relaxation music, before the riffs come back in about a minute later. Another mellow passage soon follows, although this one comes with vocals, gradually building back up to a post-sludge stomp for its final minute. After a couple more crunchy numbers and the AIC-like gloom of “Unto the Smoke,” the album culminates in a crazy 11-minute cover of the Led Zep classic “Kashmir,” initially unrecognizable through all the effects…but they put enough of their own spin on it not to make it a throwaway.
This might actually be my most pleasant surprise of 2017 (so far). If you don’t mind a little melody mixed in with your slow ‘n heavy stuff, then it might be worth a listen…