Label: HYDRA HEAD RECORDS
Out of stock
Following critical acclaim of Harvey Milk’s latest album Life… the Best Game in Town (2008), the band’s current home Hydra Head, has gone into the archives for this new/old album. Originally recorded in 1993 by one Bob Weston, these recordings never officially saw the long-playing light of day. Until now. The band is known for being somewhat curmudgeonly, and this proto-debut is fittingly nasty and strangely disconnected. Not for the ‘Milk the youthful exuberance of early spotty Metallica or grinning Slayer.
It’s classic sludge – true sludge, of a bygone era – which means that deep within its shroud of brutality is a real sense of melancholy. People think of the term ’sludge’, with regard to rock music, and they think of bass-heavy, booming rock, that’s not as sharply-mixed as more typical heavy metal and hardcore. But real sludge goes beyond the superficial, past the guitar sound of the Mastodon or Kylesa of today. It’s music of the most direct lineage from the progenitors, Black Sabbath. Sludge is not about heaviness as personal empowerment: the Darwinian strength through aural brutality espoused by Pantera, Hatebreed or early Rollins Band. Sludge’s heaviness is the unbearable weight of the world wearing on you.
‘Merlin is Magic’ has the snaking, heavy, guitar melodies of late Black Flag, at that point where their early, frenetic, assault had given way to the more philosophical frustration of the Henry Rollins era; guitarist Greg Ginn only too happy to take his guitar to similar places. But after the relative brevity of ‘Merlin is Magic’ and the more up-tempo ‘Dating Pressures’, we arrive at the ten-minute ‘My Father’s Life’: proper badboy sludge that really lets you know what the genre’s about. It begins slowly, quietly, as though it’s a ballad. And then that massive, fat, guitar smears itself all over the mix, a walking melody line like a tramp trudging shit into your house.
Cat. number: hh666-181