Release DetailsLABEL At A Loss Recordings
RELEASED ON 4/23/2007
posted on 6/2007 By:
Belgium's Blutch play an oppressively dark brand of sludgified doom with a discomforting disregard for structure or melody. Materia is the band's first effort to be released in the US via At a Loss Recordings, who usually do an excellent job of scouring the underground for the depraved sludge that sickos like me desire. Although the disc does fit with the label's usual MO, and the description I'm about to unleash will sound quite appetizing to some, this album isn't quite as engaging as the average At a Loss release is.
Materia is deceptively opened by "Smile," a 45 second burst of dissonant sludge too chaotic to settle into a groove, though not completely haphazard. "Cut a Hand" follows and is laced with a drifting sense of psychosis accented by the unique hushed murmuring vocals that sparsely litter the album. Two tracks in and so far, so good. The third track, "Beguiling Comer," opens with shifting riffing that gives the song has a paranoid tension, but after only a minute or so the track loses steam and is closed by several minutes of droning noise, a problem that pops up again later. Despite a midsection that drags a bit, "Burst" is probably the best track herein with its bludgeoning beginning and its excellent caterwauling, flailing riffing toward the end.
This is the point where Materia starts to take a big dip in terms of energy and creativity. Aside from a few bile-encrusted riffs in "Masamune" and the lurching, arrhythmic riffing of "Slaughterhouse," the rest of the album relies too heavily repetition and dull, droning noise interludes. When it comes to this type of murky music, a little bit of contrast helps give the sludge some context, but the noisy excursions herein are far too bland and derail the album's naturally flowing energy. The thing is, it's not that the songs are really all that long; most of them fall between four and six minutes, which shouldn't leave much room for filler, but Blutch could have easily trimmed the fat off this release to make it more interesting from start to finish.
Without a doubt, Materia is one of the gnarliest slabs of sludge to surface so far this year. Whether stomping through Negative Reaction styled forceful rhythms or drifting through abstract noisy textures, it feels as though Blutch is steadily sinking into a disturbing abyss. Having a cool feel can only take an album so far though, and unfortunately Materia doesn't manage to stay consistent enough in its songwriting to get by without a little more diversity.
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