Thursday, October 24, 2013

Black Sleep Of Kali - Who's Hearts Are Faint Within You (EP) (2013)

We've all seen a rainbow. Colorful, bright and happy, they are the symbol of all things positive. But there is an equivalent in the metal community, one devoid of blues, reds, purples, greens, yellows, oranges and all the rest. The black spectrum is all we need to classify some of the best music in the world. But it doesn't all have to be one dimensional, and one note, even for bands in the sludge circles. Formed in July 2008 by four "dudes who needed an excuse to drink beer and play louder," Black Sleep Of Kali are playing a brand of sludge that will resonate with the more debonaire fans of the genre, but it might not make sense to outsiders, who only know sludge by what they see and read online. On the magical world of the internet, any band with distortion can lay claim to the title. But not here. Not now. This four piece, for all the fun they've had, has also forged some of the most refined, well constructed music in modern sludge. After listening to "Who's Hearts Are Faint Within You," it might be time someone told them they don't need an excuse to drink and turn the volume knobs up.

Despite being a predominantly sludge driven band, there are many melodic tendencies that pop up throughout the album. On "Judecca," you really have a two headed monster to contend with. The verse and chorus sections are dominated by the harsh, screaming vocals you would expect. Bottom heavy and distorted, there is no mistaking this for any other form of music. But with the genre of sludge comes the misconception that it is all somehow sloppy, something you won't find evidence of here. The drumming is tight, and the guitar work has seen the rough edges filed off in favor of more distinct riffage. But scattered here and there, you find melodic elements at play, whether it be in a guitar lead or just the way the rhythm section plays. That style can be heard early on in "Morbus," as well. Sure, it's buried for most of the track beneath guitar riffs that could best be described as ominous. But it can never truly be quashed. In fact, the root of the bridge sections can be traced back to that main melody, however faint. It is the drumming that does the lion's share of the work here, with a battery of rolls and fills. 

There are more colors in the sludge rainbow than the black and white you've probably been led to believe. Sure, dark and darker are in that spectrum somewhere, but there are probably a bunch of shades of gray tucked in between. No, not 50; probably more than that. Some bands only focus on a few shades, which is what has rendered the sludge genre the one dimensional stereotype of modern metal. But where those bands fail, Black Sleep Of Kali succeed, infusing many other layers of sound into their mix. You won't find a delicate acoustic passage here, nor will be graced with atmospheric or sweeping keyboards; there is no room for that sort of musical accompaniment. What you will find is a four piece who know exactly what sludge means to them, and they play it unapologetically. It would be hard to believe that you could find any two songs in their catalog that are this big, this powerful, and fit this well together. But "Who's Hearts Are Faint Within You," is a new look at the sludge genre.


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