So well today’s Sunday Sludge behemoths cater more to the hardcore side of things, that doesn’t mean you should run for the hills. Quite the contrary in fact, because these guys rip shit. Also just wanted to say that cover is fucking sick, I want that shit poster size.
These maniacs from Minnesota bring a steaming fistful of sludge backed hardcore guaranteed to knock out your teeth, break your jaw and crack some ribs. Operating under the ethos of “Harder, Not Smarter”, Blue Ox’s second full length, “Stray Dogs On Pity Party Island” (henceforth known as “SDoPPI”), is 8 tracks full of violence, covered in filth and drenched in disgust. Elements of sludge can been heard throughout the aural assault, distortion and fuzz turning the usual hardcore knife into a blunt edged shiv.
The music is burly and belligerent. A band that stays with the riff as a weapon, used to pummel your pitiful ear canals into submission. The songs hold a heavy middle ground pace, faster than the usual sludge crawl but still slow enough to let the filthy grooves do their work. Tracks like “Cement Head” see a healthy dose of syncopation provide the backbone for the crushing jams. No breakdowns to speak of here, just a continual skull bashing to keep you entertained.
“Night of the Technicolor Yawn” opens with a classic thrash gallop only to step aside as the baseball bat of hardcore comes barreling towards your unprotected skull. Much like Cult of Occult, Blue Ox pack their music with blood, spit and soul. It’s pissed off and out for blood and broken bones, with our lumpy sacks of flesh being full of both. The muted vocal growls and screams play well with the unrelenting pressure provided by the riffs.
The “epic” of the album, “Born to Break Even (Strong Backs Beget Shitty Lives)” sees some stoner influences creep in, by way of quicker grooves and a surprisingly mellow solo that still manages to stay perfectly in place. It’s these small tastes of sludge thrown in to the churning mix of hardcore and thrash that make this album so memorable and so downright brutal. On their own each of these elements are heavy in their own right but brought together you’ve created yourself a monster.
A bass-heavy mixing gives each song their own weight and physicality. Almost as if they’re trying to reach through the speaker to break your nose, it’s the kind of slams you feel deep down into your marrow. A tasteful use of bass drops help drive the point home, all the while turning any fractures into full blown shatters.
“SDoPPI” is up for $5 dollars on Bandcamp, which is a pittance for the amount of brutality per second you get on this release. Get it, play it and tear shit up.