Review Summary: Sludge'n'Roll
It's always a curious predicament when a band attempts to mix two genres wildly unrelated to each other, considering that most experiments, on a wide, general scale, are failures. The wonder of musical experimenting is when it fails, you can hear it; the more glorious the failure, the more readily apparent it is to the human ear. This makes finding a successful combination of genres a wondrous gem of a discovery. Although not wholly spectacular, Mistress (UK) happens to be one of these musical jewels.
Their eponymous debut is a finely homogenized mix of sludge, grind and rock. As evidenced by bands such as Satyricon, Entombed and other metal/rock groups, mixing the two modernized versions of the genres is a highly vitriolic endeavor that often results in a catastrophic, hilarious failure that sounds like someone defecating on two genres at once (which is a fitting summary for almost all of modern metalcore). Mistress, most likely due in part to the inclusion of both members of Anaal Nathrakh, manage to avoid this disastrous audible tragedy quite gracefully, and, as should be expected of them, produce an extremely intense final product. Alternating between sludge-rock and simple grind, the band attempts to establish a distinct sound, but as with all successes, acquire a small hiccup in the form of pattern and repetition.
The band’s fusion of sludge and rock is augmented by a dynamic, muddy production. In a rare twist of fate, the bass is finally cranked up to eleven and given an equal amount of attention compared to the lead guitar. In addition to this, Mick Kenney (guitarist for Anaal Nathrakh, Professor Fate) plays drums on this release. For the most part, his perforamance is standard and unassuming, keeping a simple beat. He gets a few moments to shine on the grind tracks, where performs admirably. IN a smilar veinl, DaveHunt (vocalist of Anaal Nathrakh) performs as one would expect: completely unintelligibly. Sticking with his standard black metal scream, it would be an accomplishment of indescribabably merit if anyone can comprehend a single word of the vocals on this album. In accordance with a standard sludge sound, the guitars stick to slow, progressive not structures that build as they rumble along, but are apt to switch at the drop of a hat (presumably a top-hat, since they are Englishmen) to face-destroyingly fast and precise on the more grind oriented tracks.
The big question, as far as the melding of two styles goes, is how functional is it? Does the band mix the two distinct sounds in a sharp, cohesive manner? In short, yes. There’s a catch, though; being that, although the sound and style work, it’s validity as an interesting form of music falters a tad. The band, either intentionally or unintentionally, arranged the album in a patterned format: sludge track, sludge truck, grind track. At first unnoticeable, but readily apparent later on, it lends itself to the dullness of what will henceforth be known as Sludge’n’Roll. Even with a balls-out rocking format, it’s just not as interesting as other, simpler genres.