Gormless – Gormless (Self-titled demo)

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Label: Yamabushi Recordings 

Man, this is a dirty, heavy piece of work. The three tracks on this demo from Yamabushi filth-merchants Gormless is the kind of release you can hold up as a prime example of exactly why playing slow can be so much more punishing than blasting away as fast as you can. The tempos barely shift beyond a crawl, with the air heavy with bad vibes and feedback. There’s no fun here at all, just the sensation of drowning in tar and mud. It’s the sludge archetype encapsulated perfectly, and it’s absolutely bloody great.

Though split in to three tracks, given their untitled nature and the way they flow in to one another, it feels more apt to consider them as movements in a single piece. “I” is arguably the most accessible, as suits its position as the opening track, with a lumbering, slowed-down Sabbath riff as its spine. There’s a degree of swagger and looseness to the band, as if suggesting that everything could fall apart at any moment, and it gives the demo a nice punk feel. That’s also helped by the rough, DIY production, which lets the guitars echo the right amount and gives the bass and drums real weight. The vocals, meanwhile, are simply disgusting.

“II” slows things down even further, hitting paces that can safely be compared to funeral doom, and sounding all the heavier for it. During its five and a half minute duration, you’ll find yourself pulled even further under the filth, the oppressive heaviness holding you under. It’s hardly a comfortable listen, but it sure as hell is compelling. There’s brief moments where the drums and guitar burst in to life with small flurries of intense activity, but they soon pass and the tempo drops right back down again.

It blends in to “III” with ringing feedback and thundering, one-note caveman riffs, so gloriously primitive, but the tempo picks up oh-so slightly and that punk rock swagger returns. It helps give the demo a sense of danger, though the chief impression is of how absolutely slow and heavy the whole thing is. Which, when it comes to sludge, is pretty much how it should be. There’s no attempt at innovation here, just damn good sludge, packed with super-slow riffs, pounding drums, and venomous vocals. Absolutely, disgustingly delightful.

Gormless can be streamed and downloaded via Bandcamp.

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