Toronto sludge trio Pale Mare has been making a name for themselves over the past three years, both locally and internationally. I’ve personally seen ‘em open for Windhand, Weedeater, Eyehategod and COC, and they’re even playing this year’s Psycho Smokeout in Los Angeles. With that said, the band still doesn’t have an album out – II is their second EP, this one with four tracks clocking in at 27 and a half minutes.
Suffice to say, these are (mostly) some pretty long songs. “House of War” kicks things off, nearly eight minutes of mid-paced sludgy chugs with a pretty strong High on Fire influence. There might be a couple added proggy flourishes, but the vocals are definitely from the Matt Pike school of growling. “Zealot” picks up the pace almost from the get-go, but it’s only about 45 seconds before we’re hit with a slow, brooding breakdown. It’s another minute or so before the first vitriolic vocal hits us, as they shift again toward familiar mid-paced sludge territory, before cycling back into the slow ‘n heavy – this number has got a few more tempo changes.
On the flipside, “Voidgazer” sets a slow, pummelling pace more akin to the death-doom of Winter or Unearthly Trance, albeit clocking in at a mere 4:18, with some tough-guy hardcore tendencies in the verses. “Remains,” which comes in at just over nine minutes, is the most plodding of the four songs, but also the most headbangable…if the power of the riff so compels you.
(Seeing Red Records)