Now, Japan has produced some pretty solid stoner and death/doom bands over the years, from Coffins to Corrupted, Eternal Elysium to Chuch of Misery… not to mention Boris, who practically deserve their own category. But when it comes to straight-ahead Japanese sludge, I usually come up empty. So when I heard that Sithter, a band with a weird name and a Misfits inspired logo, worships at the altar of Eyehategod, Grief and Buzzoven, I was certainly intrigued. And let me tell ya, that ain’t no false advertising!
Right from the get-go, the title track “Chaotic Fiend” hits you with the downtuned riffage and spoken-word sound-clips we’ve come to expect from CoM, buried under a layer of swirling distorted effects. The vocals are tuneless and tone-deaf chanting, dragging along with the general proceedings. But then they launch into a Bower-inspired riff right around the three-minute mark (this track’s seven and a half), and the vocals start to more closely resemble Mike IX at his meanest. That’s when I knew these guys were cooking with hot sauce!
“I Drink Your Blood” is a much more compact track, three-and-a-half minutes and a cloud of dust. This one rumbles and grumbles like Weedeater at its finest, a bass-heavy slab of mid-paced sludge. The bass-wah solo that begins “Smoke Demon” simply screams Tatsu Mikami (if you don’t know who that is, do you even doom, bro?), before settling into another misery-inducing groove, equal parts EHG and CoM. The riff that kicks in around the four-minute mark mighta fallen from Sleep’s Holy Mountain, but it lands with a heavy thud…. which in this business, is a good thing.
“Masque of the Black Death” could be the closest they come to Coffins, but the slow, churning riff barrage is offset somewhat by the growling hardcore vocals. This is one heavy vegetable stew, too! By contrast, “Empire” picks up the pace with a sub-three-minute blast of hardcore sludgy goodness, bringing EHG or Buzzoven to mind, before dropping down to a snail’s pace around the halfway mark. I feel like I’ve heard this riff before on Dopesick… And I’d probably be remiss to mention the closing track, “Jerusalem Axe Massacre,” which, at a shade over 17 minutes, is sort of their own mini Dopesmoker…. or Jerusalem, as it were. 😉
So yeah, they’re not doing anything you haven’t heard before, but you probably haven’t heard a new record of this sorta stuff in a while, and certainly not from this part of the world. Domo arigato, Mr. Sludge-boto!