Sometimes, you don’t want to have to work to enjoy what you’re listening to. There’s absolutely no shame in listening to a record where the appeal is up-front and obvious, be it in the melodies, the riffs, or whatever else. Three-piece Lockersludge understand that, and on EP Drawing Lessons they don’t mess about, combining a heavy sludge sound with just a hint of slowed-down hardcore. Their riffs are beautifully heavy, their songs having the right amount of melody whilst still being nasty, all possessing a great guitar tone, and even at times a sense of fun. It makes for a gloriously unpretentious listen, with these five songs having their appeal plain for all to see. It won’t change the world, it won’t challenge you, but it will have you banging your head and throwing horns at your desk.
The opening trio of songs draw from the more negative side of sludge, with the titles of the first two songs making it clear what they’re all about (“Burden Of Pain” and “Guilt, Anger And Aggression”). Crowbar are the obvious comparison here, with the songs possessing a similar kind of heaviness as to the NOLA legends, both musically and emotionally. Lyrically, they’re as bleak as anything, but the power of the riffs still means they’re enjoyable in the way that sludge can be when done well. And, just to emphasise the point, these songs are heavy.
It’s the final two tracks that really hammer home how enjoyable and up-front this EP is, though. “The Beard Of Doom” is a celebration of all things Crowbar, both musically and lyrically, totally succeeding and largely helped by the way it doesn’t take itself too seriously, even if i’s tributes are undeniably honest (“Kirk Windstein is the beard of doom!/Kirk Windstein is the riff lord!”). If it doesn’t put a stupid smile on your face and have you nodding your head along, you’re in the wrong place, quite frankly. It’s an absolute joy to hear a band effectively saying “we love this band and aren’t afraid to show it”. Because, let’s face it, Crowbar are pretty fucking fantastic.
Closer “Burn In Hell” takes a slightly different approach, being a cover of Cathedral’s classic “Hopkins (The Witchfinder General)” and totally reworking it. It’s obvious that Lockersludge are having great fun, and that feeling carries over to the listener, though it’s probably best not to take the track too seriously – to do so is to completely miss the point. Over the course of these five songs, Lockersludge demonstrate that they can be both serious and more light-hearted, whilst constantly being musically heavy and enjoyable, and Drawing Lessons is a pretty great little slice of sludge.
Drawing Lessons is available to stream and download through Bandcamp; the band have also produced a short run of CDs, which can also be purchased through Bandcamp. Note that “Burn In Hell” isn’t listed on the Bandcamp page, but was included in the version downloaded from there.