The Ground Collapses

Sludge and death metal, both evolved from hardcore/punk and electric blues, but a sludge-death cross-over is so much more than their shared roots. Fifty years of metal evolution, hundreds of sub-genres and here Disbelief simply continues that very captivating trend of mutations. In this case – strands of hardcore, New Orleans sludge and death metal crafts an unusual atmospheric blend. The Ground Collapses is quintessential extreme metal – in other words it encodes those long running lineage of influences, but still manages to sound novel.

It’s that familiar doom like aesthetics, that essential low, but uniquely fueled by deathly compositions rooted somewhere in late 80s Florida or Sweden. A hardcore wall-of-sound, often severed by meandering leads, and layered with cross-over vocals, creating an atmosphere so dank, deathly and gloomy. In metal, cross-genre sound is not uncommon, but this elegant cross-over aesthetic is. This subtle blend of aggression and grief makes for an essential listen, ironically one of those pockets of bliss in a rather morbid year.


Bongripper simply proves vocals are optional for an idyllic doom atmosphere. For an instrumental sludge/doom album clocking 43 minutes, and with just two songs, it takes stunningly creative song writing directions. Sublime and adequately downtuned, Terminal integrates those dreary elements from doom straight into an atmospheric sludge wall.

With thick bass lines and precision beats interleaved with dreamy solos, at times it’s slow to the point where time itself stands still. Almost like ‘Dance of December Souls’ meets the legendary ‘Odd Fellows Rest’. When this sonic grind of sludge meets doom like guitar hues, it tends to become a perfect introspective complement to a misty weekend evening, probably wasted at a dim tavern, with suitable amounts of your choice for that chilled beverage.

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Odd Fellows Rest

At New Orleans moderate temperatures, 70s Black Sabbath and hardcore punk riffs are known to fuse, forming what we now know as sludge. Crowbar simply crystallized it into a grinding atmospheric doom. It’s downtuned to the abyss and propelled by stocky hardcore punk riffs, usually dragged out to its limits. Rare bluesy strumming and more than adequate raspy vocals – “Slave to no one but your misery. Broken man lies where you used to be” – adds to the essential low. But even at this bleak pace, anyone can easily sense the grinding force that Crowbar inflicts.

These thoroughly grayed out hues may not be everyone’s delight. Crowbar’s creations are essentially tailored – to just fit into the two percentile of the brooding end of the emotional spectrum. But, if gloom is what you seek, ‘Odd Fellows Rest’ is splendid company.

Image Attribution:
Nonexyst [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Crowbar’s Dream Weaver

With dragged out progressions and downtuned guitars, Crowbar effectively filters out the sober trance like attributes of the original Dream Weaver. Now add Kirk Windstein’s grating vocals, and this brew of molten sludge metal blend is complete. With this newer darker context, even the lyrics  – “Driver take away my worries of today And leave tomorrow behind…” – seemed depressing.

Crowbar’s atmospheric doom and sludge metal texture effectively leveled those vibrant emotions exhibited by Gary Wright’s work. This transformation sort of spanned the full spectrum – all the way from rainbows to gunmetal gray. Adapting a synth-pop ballad into a grungy wall of sound might be a creative leap, but Crowbar did spearhead sludge metal.