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Mudbath : Corrado Zeller

Mudbath's debut full-length balances captivating angst-riddled intrigue with some well-executed filthy Sludge.

Two releases in a row now, which upon initial visual inspection and subsequent aural absorbtion challenged my preconceptions somewhat. Books and covers and all that. Mudbath's name and artwork on both their releases suggests a far more traditional Stoner band oozing a lysergically infused soundscape rather than the blackened Sludge/Doom from hell on offer here. Point taken then, cliched ideology gratifyingly placed to one side. At least for now. Introducing myself to French gloomsters Mudbath with previous release 'Red Desert Orgy' my attention was caught even if the title of the last track sounds like something Uncle Al Jourgensen might come up with for Lard in one of his slightly more childish moments. Mudbath definitely have something. But what exactly, is it?

The music, although primarily slow, and effectively split in equal doses between Sludge and a rather primitive sounding Traditional Doom tends also at times to sound like Black Metal slowed down to almost un-hackable proportions. The harsh vocals, also considerably Black Metal in style, stick out like a particularly sore, skinless and septic thumb and push this French entity far, far away from any nice hippy, bell-bottomed Pentagram worship. Smoke some of mother natures' finest to this and you may well find the Devil after you. And not in a good way. This is raw-sounding, grating, nerve wrangling filth. It's a bad trip. You have been warned.

To get a better idea of where Mudbath are coming from, it may well help to have seen the 1964 Italian film 'Red Desert' starring Richard Harris, whose character's name is 'Corrado Zeller'. Not having seen it personally it would be good to know where Mudbath clearly draw much inspiration from, which, from their music and the films various synopses one can reasonably assume contains and explores much existential angst. The delivery here of both music and particularly the vocals bring to mind last year's 'MMXIV' release by California's Keeper in it's harsh, unashamedly relentless - and, for a fair amount of the CD - desperately slow approach. Chords are hammered out, like cries from the voice of a mind utterly at odds with the circumstances it finds itself presented with. As with the Californians, Mudbath too have a certain emotive quality, even if it's more along the lines of a harrowing psychosis being made manifest in the music, rather than Keeper's post-rock musings. There's some melody too, but you do have to look for it.

Opening up with 'Thus I Saw The Destructive Voracity of an Obsessive Ritual', the ten-minute track builds slowly in speed through a number of different passages to something approaching 'midpaced' by the songs conclusion. Although each section of the song relies on a repeating riff or motif, there's plenty going on to keep the listeners interest, including the occasional different effect to the guitar. With track two we get a sudden belt to the side of the head, as the tempo is upped to just shy of 'blast-beat' speed for the first couple of minutes before rumbling to a slower conclusion with some nifty double bass drumming. This track reminded me of some of the lo-fi Black metal being churned out in the mid 2000's. Not a bad thing by any means. Finally, the album is finished off with 'Salmonella', a grimy, brooding affair almost eighteen minutes in length. Plodding, heavy, and almost trance-like in places, the first ten minutes or so are an exercise in endurance before the drums kick in and begin their bludgeoning again, after which the whole thing writhes slowly in pain towards its conclusion to the strains of some tortured lead guitar and the consistently punishing vocals.

It is, as Mudbath themselves proclaim, a most 'bestial' offering. Mastered by Collin Jordan who includes the excellent Cough and the herbally bespoke Bongripper on his résumé, the production is harsh sounding as well as complimentary to all the bandmembers. It ain't pretty, but it's not supposed to be. Out now on Lost Pilgrims Records whose roster and Bandcamp page is always worth a look at, Mudbaths' 'Corrado Zeller' is a captivating piece of heavy, angst-riddled intrigue on the one hand and some well-executed filthy Sludge on the other.

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Reviewer's rating: 7/10


Tracklist :
1. Thus I Saw The Destructive Voracity of an Obsessive Ritual
2. Shrim Alternative Healing Center
3. Salmonella

Duration : Approx. 36 minutes

Visit the Mudbath bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-03-01 by Matt Halsey
Rotten Copper
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