California sludge masters -(16)- face the blurring void on Into Dust.
The story begins in 1991 when the early moments of -(16)- coalesced. Their music is usually referred to as sludge metal, which it certainly is, but it also exists in a confidence interval that includes hardcore, punk, and stoner inclinations, to name only a few. Over the past thirty years, they have made a critical ascent. During this time, they have released a formidable amount of music, with multiple EPs, splits, and nine full-length albums, including Into Dust. The band is Bobby Ferry (guitar, vocals), Alex Shuster (guitar), Barney Firks (bass), and Dion Thurman (drums).
“There’s a story arc in the lyrics that start with an eviction notice served amid the ruins of Hurricane Irma in the Florida Keys, to running aground metaphorically and drowning in midlife, bearing witness to the modern suffering of hunger and poverty on the Mexico California border,” Bobby Ferry says about the latest record. That covers a lot of ground. When I listened to the album the first time, I got involved with each song separately, and the arc did not sink in. That is not meant as a criticism, but rather as a declaration of how compelling each individual element is.
The first track is monster, “Misfortune Teller,” leaning heavily on the rhythm and regiment to put you on the path. There is more of a presence for the lead guitar on “Dead Eyes” and, especially, “Ash in the Hourglass,” where we get a tasty groove, too. “Scrape the Rocks” downshifts a might and has a sorrowful feeling to it as a result. It is also quite grungy. In the very next space, “Null and Eternal Void” tugs the eclectic ear and hits grating and coarse elements hard. You really feel it all coming together by now if it hasn’t hit you before.
Other tracks that stay with me after the second time through are “Never Paid Back” for its dark and elegant gloominess, and the comprehensive closer, “Born on a Barstool.” It opens with quiet flittering lounge jazz then splits your skull with a titanically heavy drop about a minute in. It brings the proceedings to a finish a in a way you won’t forget, back at that jazz bar. Recommended.
Into Dust hits the streets on Friday, November 18th through Relapse Records. Touch the links below.
Band photo Chad Kelco.
Relapse Records, https://store.relapse.com/
© Wayne Edwards