The Best Sludge Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2019





With a title that would've suggested a heavier record, Curse These Metal Hands is lighter than both of Conjurer and Pijn's usual material, sounding akin to later-era Mastodon or Baroness, with a very airy blend of the two bands' sounds that feels heavy and weightless at the same time, and definitely with better production than the latest Baroness had.

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There's no bullshit with Hollow Leg; they make it well and truly clear from the first minutes of "Litmus" what you're in for on Civilizations. Dirty, groovy, booming sludge in the vein of Crowbar and High On Fire, the irresistibly hooky riffs are backed up by gnarly bellows right from the school of Matt Pike. Most songs are content to focus on one riff, but when the riffs are this good, there's no need to be too adventurous. If you're looking for innovation, you can go elsewhere; the rest of us can have a wild old time letting loose to this collection of absolute rippers.

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Aiming to better balance their debasing blend of black and sludge metal, Lord Mantis set aside their penchant for sheer violence and allowed for hints of melody and atmosphere to sneak into their sound this time around. Universal Death Church by no means abandons the American quintet's vile, pugilistic approach, but with some slightly more accessible elements incorporated into the mix, it promises a more fulfilling and nuanced experience unlike anything they've released before.

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Step into this Hellcircle of Torture, nasty-slow sludge riffs countered with punishing sludge-core speed and howled vocals, and you will Weep. Ugly music for only the most appalling of people; if the normies in your life catch you infected by Plague, they'll seek to put you in Quarantine.

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You know, there aren't many occasions when you could confuse sludge with grindcore, especially when the tempo is as lethargic and creeping as that of any good doom band; the disgusting artwork alone tells us that Miscarriage was born of something disposed of and left to culture by Carcass a long time ago. Imminent Horror starts off slow and stays that way, forcing its walls of riff-slamming distortion and bursts of aggressive percussion to wallow in a torpid morass of sickening noise; the unintelligible gurgling that sits overtop the crushing distortion almost passes for human vocalization. "Sludge" is really too gentle a term for a band as hideous as Miscarriage - these brutal, ultra-slow grind tracks give off a sharp, acrid stench that will stick in your nostrils for days afterwards.

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In what is likely best described as Shakespearean sludge metal, Muladona is an extreme storytelling affair utilizing a gruff, hardcore vocal delivery to counter its macabre spoken-word message. Rorcal never shy away from stylistic experimentation, genre-hopping at will, but they've streamlined their atmospheric blackened sludge sound with this release, despite its more daring and brazen envelope-pushing. It's an intense poetic journey worth reading into.

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Though the "6" in Vol. 6 might make for an awkward listen without listening to the first five volumes, even on its own and without taking into account the record's narrative, Seer's Vol. 6 is a damn great sludge album, the closest you'll find to a progressive doom record in this category. The cleans and the songwriting might convince you that it's not a sludge record, but the walls of distortion and the bass certainly make their case.

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This Gift Is A Curse managed to make A Throne Of Ash not only one of the most violently bludgeoning albums out there, but one with some of the most oppressive and bleak atmospheres out there. Perfectly balancing the pummeling with the suffocating, this album has dissonant black, industrial noise, chaotic hardcore, and atmospheric sludge all thrown in to create one of this year's most unsettling albums.

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Void Addiction is a sludge-coated pintxo of pain. For the most part you get slow, heavy, almost thrashy riffs played at doom tempos, accompanied by Balrog-roar vocals and movie clips tossed in for intros or outros. It's an absolutely ugly formula that has worked on their prior efforts and continues to do so here. Now they've tacked on some Uncle Al of Ministry-style vocals and some of the audio clips devoted to Satan are now focused on Maryjane. Speaking of the hippie lettuce, if you get the audio-munchies for an ugly sludge-doom hybrid guaranteed to offend your earhole, this will be right up your alley. Tort is Sorcery!

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For a sludge metal album released by Throatruiner Records, Astral Sabbath is surprisingly not that noisy, but rather very expansive and psychedelic at times. The music is slow-burning and crushing, almost post-metal, but the hardcore bits do crash in, making it pummeling and relentless. And, man, does that bass sound absolutely gigantic.

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