The Best Sludge / Stoner Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2016





Lumbering juggernauts of distortion and serial killers go together like Black Sabbath and Black Sabbath, which are the two major influences that Church Of Misery combined to produce this album. The fuzzy, hellbound blues sound plods forward with the type of thick crunch that bones make when thrown under a steamroller. Never change, Church Of Misery.
After a six-year hiatus Cough are back with the slow burn Still They Pray, over an hour of delicious fuzzed-out stoner doom. Electric Wizard's Jus Osborn twiddled knobs for this one, giving you max fuzz for a nice smokey, hazy sonic experience. Tune in and zone out.

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What it is about the Pacific Northwest? It must be pretty damn bleak. The Curse That Is took nearly 15 years to make and is as drab and foreboding as the scene there. Nearly 80 minutes of organic and unpolluted sludge metal, The Curse That Is emits slow and fuzzy, sometimes crushingly heavy, sometimes achingly beautiful qualities. Who wants to go to Portland with us?

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A lot of bands could take a leaf from Herder's new approach. Not resting on their laurels of having been nominated in the prestigious Metal Storm Awards for their last album, these Dutchies upped their game by retaining their pummeling sound, playing at a faster pace, then giving the music a good shot of overarching guitar leads to further stand out from the crowd.

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Inter Arma's third epic is a voluminous sea of molasses-thick low-end and sinister riffs. Inter Arma has impenetrable, sludgy canyons of noise coming out the wazoo, and Paradise Gallows resorts to all kinds of genre-crossing to deal with the immense amount of material pouring into it. Black, doom, post-metal, and hardcore all become enfolded into the vastness of Inter Arma, mixing into a monstrous wall of meaty, hazy, never-ending sludge that is as enticing as it is engulfing.

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Ortega are back, doing what they do best. Grinding up a little doom here, post- there with a whole lotta sludge and craft songs that gradually build up in tension and intensity, blow up all Krakatoa-like, then re-coalesce. It's an organic feel built on a lot of repetition of a riff or concept, and just slowly adding to it over time. Stunning effort.

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Just like a good pizza, Red Fang does not need to reinvent the wheel to have you keep going back to them somehow. The ingredients are simple: heaviness, groove, catchiness and a bit of grit. The only difference is that even doctors advise you to listen to Red Fang at least once per day to give your neck muscles a healthy dose of stretchin'.

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The core that runs The Order Of Things is basically a sludge/doom, with a suitable dose of ambient passages. In some moments you can hear even post-rock sounds that resonate in the background. A general display of their specific sound might give you a bit more complex idea, but The Order Of Things grows gradually with every spin, creating a strong, compact output.

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Warsaw, Poland is joining in on the ever-popular and growing sludge/stoner/psychedelic scene. Zoreya is a worthy example, displaying pounding, soul-crushing destruction and devastation. Down-tuned slugs of riffs rumble and ruin, drowned in thunderous, cavernous bass. Sunnata have left an essential imprint on top of the genre and possibly the best album artwork in 2016.

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Imagine if Orange Goblin and Tool had a bastard love child, and that child went on to play in a stony jam band. Yeah, that's a good starting point. Part stoner, part doom with a dash of blues, Midnight Cometh is big on (Wo) Fat riffs, vibe and groove. All in all a great ride.

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