Review Summary: A sewn mouth secret.
Charlton Heston’s 1973 cult classic film "Soylent Green
" is to sci-fi what New Orleans, Louisiana blackened-sludge stalwarts Soilent Green are to metal; a cult favourite amongst anyone interested in the deep south’s influence on sludge metal. Like Heston’s bleak outlook on the future (a ravaged utopia where the horrors of mankind have completely come true), Soilent Green have had their fair share of misfortune that would make most bands break up three times over. A few of these unhealthy reminders fall under the categories of murder and Hurricane Katrina, but have only made the band stronger with age. Who knew that a band name would ironically predict the future of the group with multiple band members coming and going like a revolving door and a slew of other problems that would follow? However, if you know anything about these bands from the south, the worst possible adversity would only lend itself in the creation of some of the most genuinely pissed off, angst-vibed albums to ever creep out the dirtiest bowels of metal. Sewn Mouth Secrets
feels exactly as the above description with enough musical punch to influence sludge metal as we hear it today.
Forming in 1988, it wasn’t until 1995 when Soilent Green really took off with their debut Pussysoul
which is still regarded today as a classic in the foundations of sludge / death metal. Building upon the supremely tight sound of Pussysoul
, sophomore effort and first for Relapse Records Sewn Mouth Secrets
is the perfect stepping stone from their debut, pushing the boundaries of sludge and blackened death metal to new heights of excellence. In my mind, what sets this baby apart from other southern classics such as Dopesick
by Eyehategod and Crowbar’s self-titled is the amount of diversity within the songs and genres packed into forty-five minutes of raging chaos. Guitarists Donovan Punch and Brain Patton are the key players here, stirring up blindingly fast blackened death metal chops and doomier sludge notes that cover so much ground in the riff department that the album will need your full investment for several thorough listens.
Speaking of diversity, the southern bluesy riffs that pepper the album offer some relief from the turbulence and also inject the music with some much needed breathers. Also as a sign of respect to their thriving music culture in New Orleans, these blues-licks act as a tip-of-the-hat to their grassroots heritage that had as much an influence on their sound as their bludgeoning metal scene has provided. Soilent Green’s rhythm section ain’t a bunch of slouches either, comprised of Scott Williams on bass and Tommy Buckley on drums who help lead the attack with an excellent attention to detail when steering the songs in their given directions, whatever the style of genre they’re playing and further adding to the range of structures and song-writing techniques. The most recognized member of the band and vocalist Ben Falgoust II certainly puts his pipes to the test, ranging between a course-textured growl and a gnarly blackened rasp that follows suit with his lyrics that are both anguished and severely pissed off while retaining some ingenuity.
As turbulent as the times for Soilent Green have been over the past ten years, nothing in their discography stands-up as well to this influential album that has spawned numerous copycats and too many side projects to count (Goatwhore being the most obvious one of the bunch). The amalgamation of sludge, death metal, and southern flavoured licks was what metal needed at this point in time, rife with generic bands that seemed to clone each other to no end (yes, I’m talking about nu-metal in a Soilent Green review). Sewn Mouth Secrets
is one of the best-kept secrets in the genre and is essential to any person worthy enough of calling themselves a “metalhead”.