Review Summary: One of those rare albums that can never be replicated. Not even by the band.
If I was ever asked what I considered to be the heaviest record in existence, it quickly turns into a disaster. It is just like being asked what your favourite album of all-time is: there is just too many variables, choices and angles to choose and observe it all from. But if I was to think of an LP that serves justice to the definition of heavy
, there really is no better place to look than Black Sheep Wall's monstrous debut I Am God Songs
. This sludgy, down-tempo body crusher is the epitome of everything negative and bleak, nicely packaged and pressed on a compact disc. This thing is so pissed off, you can practically hear its festering snarl as you open up the CD sleeve.
I Am God Songs
is one of those rare albums where everything comes together perfect and under naive, carefree and unique circumstances. Made by 5 guys, just for the hell of it, this collection of seething tunes were made as a DIY project in 2006, with little interest in whether anyone would like it --or care. Before the album could even get a release, the band were on the rocks and imploded --that is until buzz circulated the album and all but the singer reformed to continue making music. And as irony would have it, the band have gone on to make some EPs and two next albums, but none have come anywhere near this. Why? The loss of the band's most integral member, and the reason I Am God Songs
is so entertaining and unique. The vocal work on this thing is so primitive -- so visceral -- it just can't be compared to anything they've done after this LP. Hell, there are few band's that posses this level of emotion and energy. It's a freak album, met by absolute freedom, and zero restraint. Cynically, I'll even say the band stand little chance of ever topping it.
The album is minimalistic, slow, sludgy and always 110% brutal, but the band has a genius that underlines the whole thing: the twists and turns on this thing are always at perfect moments that ensure the listener is always giving their complete attention to the album -- from start to finish. The shifts in tempo and groove are simply fantastic and more importantly, devastating. The album's production is a thick wall of distortion and just adds to the chaos that's already peaking at red. And the vocal work, as stated, is the whole reason this album is worth your time. My words really can't express just how brilliant they are on here, it's something you have to experience for yourself. They just feel like they were done in such a novice way, and there isn't anything particularly technical about them, but they just feel right. The best comparison I can give is how Ozzy Osbourne used to tackle his vocals in Black Sabbath; he just used to open his mouth and that was what you got, and it made the band what they are. It's the same here. His performances range from guttural grunts and bellows to simple screams and shouting. It all melds together perfectly with what the music is offering and it creates an unbelievably satisfying slab of doom and sludge. The best bits of the album are the breakdown's that creep in and out of tracks as quickly as they came, leaving you wanting more, rather than making the mistake of overstaying their welcome like a lot of bands do. The tempo changes on tracks like "Nihility" and "Myolden", that constantly shift from the slow-fast dynamic before kicking into a breakdown, is just so satisfying to hear.
In the mist of complete darkness, there is a scatter of melody found inside the heart of this thing, and these parts of the album are most definitely the biggest highlight of the whole record. The cleaner guitar riffs in sections of "Care By Carcinogenic" bring a new level to the music, an exciting dynamic that challenges the album's core aesthetic. If you were to only check out one track from this LP I would instantly tell you to check out "Modest Machine", simply because it holds everything great about this LP in 7:50. The song kicks off with a scattered riff where everyone is locked in to each other; the distorted bass locking in tight with the kick drum; the vocals that bellow out over it all, it all sets the mood perfectly. Then as the song shifts to the next section, you get within earshot of a melodic guitar riff. The song then teases you as it switches between the verse and this guitar riff, nestled neatly under all the chaotic energy. The track then builds and builds until it hits you with this mind-blowing crescendo of epicness and optimism, before slowly slithering back into it's dark, bleak roots as it becomes slower, heavier and more unpleasant than ever before. It is hands down the best track the band has ever made and, in my opinion, one of the best doom metal tracks in existence. A real work of genius, that plays with every one of your emotions.
To close this review on such an album, through all the depression the album is littered in low quality sound bites that sound like they were made on a cheap phone, and contain members of the band, or whoever, laughing and showing some form of positive emotion; these elements bring a little humour and humanity to a cesspool of nihilism, suffering and darkness that actually heighten and work with the overall package. If you like metal of this type, it is an essential listen. There are so many great moments to be had with this album, and its ability to power through on such a high calibre of energy and emotion is staggering. It's just a shame we'll never see an album as good as this coming from the band again.
Editions: CD, M̶P̶3̶
Special Edition: N/A