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Servants of the Mist : Gross Knowledge Of Genital Mutilation (EP)

Like Sludge? Like to be unnerved? Listen to Servants of the Mist's latest offering.

Given its title you'd be forgiven for passing this EP by on the other side, thinking you'd narrowly avoided being aurally assaulted by some infantile gore-grind peddled by some third-rate Death metal combo intent on convincing you that they're the second coming of Carcass. But you'd be very, very wrong. And you'd be missing out on some prime Southern Sludge. If you enjoy the conceptual rumblings of Fistula and the thickly churned stylings of Haarp, for example, then you should pamper your ears with this.

Servants of the Mist hail from Tampa, Florida, and 'Gross...' is their second EP in as many years. If, on the odd occasion, as I like to think is the case, an EP can serve as a sort of musical hors d'oeuvre before the main dish then this is a rather tempting treat. A bowl of devilled sweetbreads before the crawfish, you might say.

The whole thing kicks off with a rather menacing opener: a dark-ambient soundscape, and the three snippets of narration within it get right to the heart of the matter and describe the process, albeit in a simplified form, that leads to a state of mind most of us probably wish we'll never get to, namely the moments leading up to suicide. Taking ones own life is not something to be treated lightly, and it certainly isn't here. Servants of the Mist are acknowledging some very real and troubling mindscapes, a quick glance at the track listing will tell you that, and they are presenting it in a suitably extreme format.

Effectively what we have here is an intro, and two monumental doses of sludgy Doom with a cover song sandwiched in between them. I've got to be honest and say that to begin with this seemed a tad incongruous with the rest of the EP, but a few listens down the line it beds in well and holds its own quite nicely. Oh, and it's a G G Allin song called 'Commit Suicide'. Whatever one thinks of Allin, cast your mind back far enough to remember how shocking he was at the time, and how comitted he was to his cause. Servants of the Mist seem every bit as commited to theirs. Sludge of this calibre and delivery would not be possible otherwise.

Musically, the original compositions are superbly rendered deposits of grim filth that ebb and flow at a sedate pace. If anything, it would be nice to hear them get out of second gear from time to time, as they did momentarily on the excellent 'Suicide Sex Pact' EP released last year, but that's just a personal preference and in no way detracts from the experience on offer here. If tuned low and played slow is your thing, then look no further. There's a small element of experimentation in here too which could well do with being exploited further in the future: any Sludge band boasting a keyboard player is clearly not averse to the odd risk now and again. A special mention must go to the vocals which kick in around the start of the second track: augmenting the noise with truly base and guttural sounds, they also flip effortlessly between those low deathly grunts and some chilling screams, all of which combine extremely well with the low end guitars. Impressive stuff for sure.

Like Sludge? Listen to this. Like to be unnerved? Listen to this. It's that simple. Now, for the main course I think: a full length minus the cover songs please. Give that talent and misery a place all of its own.

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Reviewer's rating: 7/10


Tracklist :
1. Sadism & Suffering
2. Undeserving
3. Commit Suicide
4. Gross Knowledge of Genital Mutilation

Duration : Approx. 25 minutes

Visit the Servants of the Mist bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-08-31 by Matt Halsey
A Dream Of Poe - The Wraith Uncrowned
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