Getting smothered and beaten severely doesn’t like a terribly pleasant undertaking, does it? That would hurt, man. No one wants to be at the other end of complete savagery. But what if that beating was more of the sonic variety than the physical one? Would the experience sound more inviting to you?
If so, “Ezekiel’s Hags,” the third record from Los Angeles sludge monsters Seven Sisters of Sleep, should be right up your alley. I’ve said this before, but calling music heavy on this site always feels stupid. No shit it’s heavy. But SOS’s brand of muddy, crushing metal has to be described in this manner because it truly is the first descriptor that comes to mind. If you can imagine cement trucks doing bloody battle in some kind of industrial cage, you’ll have a good idea what to expect here, as these 11 tracks pack a severe wallop. This record also is a little beefier than what we’ve come to expect from the band, with the album running about 50 minutes of tar-boiling fury, 15 minutes or so longer than usual.
Although the band only has been around for six years, they’ve gotten a lot done in that time frame. As noted, “Ezekiel’s Hags” is the band’s third long player, with 2011’s self-titled debut and 2013’s “Opium Morals” preceding it. They also have put out some split efforts with bands including Ilsa, Shaman’s Owl, and Children of God, and they’ve also splattered audiences with their live show. Here, the band–vocalist Tim McAlary, guitarists Brock Elmore and Eddie Bermudez, bassist Chip Blake, drummer Brian Thomas–sounds as if it is growing into a scarier, burlier monster as they push past the shorter blasts of their past in favor of letting their reach branch out and accumulate bodies along the way.
“Jones” unloads noise right away, simmering there before the track erupts fully. Heavily shrieked vocals, as well as guitars that lean black metal, lead the way, as the vicious agenda blasts right into “Denounce,” the second-longest track at 6:38. The song takes its time and lashes away, as harsh growls pound, and the tempo mauls with a calculated pace. Riffs lap over pockets of thrashing, while the back end destroys, practically spitting nails and then bleeding out in feedback. “Gutter” sits in furnace-like noise before a burly riff emerges, speeds up momentarily, and then settles back into the mud. The band strikes hard, even swaggering at times, before blowing into “Plateau” and its slow chugs. The growls are buried under the chaos boiling, while the guitar blow fire, and feedback consumes all. “Brother’s River” has weird melodies and bizarre riffs, eventually stomping along and chewing on some Sabbath-style guitar work. “Prey” is ominous at the start, with feedback spilling in, filthy growls choking, and the wheels spinning out in the muck.
“Third Season” sounds mournful when it gets underway, letting dark waves crash over, setting the stage for the wrenching growls. The riffs are strong and staggering, with the drums battering you and the vocals teetering between gurgling growls and fierce shrieks. “Sacred Prostitute” has noise scraping and suffocating guitars, with the doom later dropping and further darkening the scene, and the guitars churning and causing total decimation. “Ud-Nun” spills stabbing noises, with more cement truck-heavy doom riffs settling in, and the tempo smudging over the chorus. The final moments completely explode, spewing shrapnel everywhere. “War Master,” as one might expect from its title, is massively heavy, with the vocals finding new ways to frighten and the guitars taking on a tone that oddly reminds of classic power metal. That all sets the stage for the 10:19 closer “Bastard Son,” a track originally available on the Shaman’s Owl split and that uses every second wisely to do as much damage as possible. The track orchestrates a well-planned assault, landing punches slowly and to the right pain points and forcing you to gasp for air in the thick humidity. The pace changes about halfway through this bastard, with the guitars charging hard, harsh wails penetrating, and the song dissolving in bed of feedback, chewing the track’s flesh from its bones.
Unless you have no self-control, you likely can survive “Ezekiel’s Hags” without any physical wounds. But Seven Sisters of Sleep do a fine job meting out psychological and auditory violence, making your psyche feel it’s gone through a 12-round battle with a behemoth. This band is growing massive and unforgiving, and this record is an absolute beast.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/sevensistersofsleep
To buy the album, go here: https://store.relapse.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.relapse.com/