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Ketch : Ketch (EP)

If you are in any way a fan of Sludge, Ketch have the perfect debut EP for you.

I like Sludge. In fact I love it. I make no apologies for it. Fast, slow, laid back, angry, stoned, drunk, crusty. Whatever. It's all good, as they say. So, if Traditional Doom has everything in it's rightful place within the confines of a circled 'Sabbathian Pentagram', order from chaos so to speak, then Sludge can often appear to be the polar opposite. Sludge often acts as if it don't give a monkey's. If Gothic Doom waltzs by sporting a frilly ruff and velvet waistcoat, then Sludge will probably laugh and spit on its suede boots as it skips daintily past. Should Funeral Doom try to slope away unnoticed, cloaked in sackcloth and ashes at a sedentary pace, Sludge may very well try to set its black coat tails on fire with petrol and a cigarette lighter, before attempting to pull both its ears off with bare hands.

Raw undiluted Sludge is the delinquent bastard offspring of Traditional Doom and Hardcore, a primitive, and downright aural nuisance that at times can appear to be Doom's very own 'village idiot'. But this is no untrained trickster, it is an essential ingredient in the world of Doom and when its energy is either properly focused, or just left to run riot, it very often becomes just as powerful, and 'magikal', a force as the rest of 'em.

Take, as an example Ketch, who, it would seem, take things pretty seriously, and it's as well they do. The four tracks on this self titled debut from last year truly are weighty lumps of the good stuff. Sharing a style of bludgeoning similar to fellow countrymen Primitive Man and Noothgrush, it's worth noting there are many more sonic twists and turns to be had than their generic Bandcamp tags would suggest. There are Post-Rock and Post-Metal needles in this particular haystack which provide moments and passages of musical intonation that are almost trance inducing, as well as elements of menace and foreboding.

The artwork boasts a healthy Lovecraftian vision, which is reflected not so much in the music but in the vocals which are, at times about as subterranean as it gets. It also has quite a vicious bark to it in other places. This kind of variance is used well, the sub-end guttural rumbles blend well with the music, adding effective, extra heaviness. Variance is the word here, the songs have goodly amounts of slow, thick, chugging, bass-heavy stuff that will shake the neighbors walls, as well as the more prevalent, slowish, mid-paced sections which have a number of interesting flourishes added to them. Elements of lead guitar motifs keep the whole thing from becoming too one-dimensional, quieter breakdowns allowing the bass to reveal its filthy low-end grumble, and even some spoken word towards the end of 'Chemical Despondency' all give 'Ketch' its unique character.

There are 'elements', and sounds which call to mind Lotus Ash's recentish debut in the way that atmosphere and vibe are as much a part of things as brute force and ignorance. Ultimately though, the scales fall in favour of a more traditional sludgy mire, as opposed to too much Post-Metal experimentation. For some reason, in a couple of the ...er...'quieter' moments, the vibes of the lead work brought to mind UK 'indie' psych'ers Loop. This is a red herring though, Ketch sound nothing like them. But it's a good example how many of the different things going on here that aren't necessarily 'traditional' in approach will call to the listeners mind all manner of odd influences. Yet Ketch come across as nothing other than a Sludge metal band, and for this, as well as the guitar solo in the first track, they are to be applauded.

If you are in any way a fan of Sludge and its ilk, head to their Bandcamp page, download a copy and beg them to do a proper CD release, as for now there are only fifty hand made copies available, and probably not many of those left. You might be able to blag one off the band, you won't be able to blag mine. This is my favorite listen of the year so far, and by a considerable distance.... This, as they say, is the shit.

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Reviewer's rating: 10/10


Tracklist :
1. Shimmering Lights
2. Counting Sunsets
3. Chemical Despondency
4. 13 Coils

Duration : Approx. 28 minutes

Visit the Ketch bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-04-14 by Matt Halsey
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