Review Summary: 16 are back... and it's loud...
Despite what Sputnik music says, 16 have been sporadically been releasing EPs for the course of their sixteen year existence, The last being 2002's Zoloft Smile, and after that I had thought that they faded away, never to sludge again. Well on the sixteenth anniversary of the band Chris Jerue (vocals), Bobby Ferry (guitar), Tony Baumeister (bass), and Jason Corley (drums) re-invigorated the band and through Relapse records (who else) released their first full length album Bridges to Burn.
Bridges is basically about how awful and unfortunate life can be, and on a semi-serious note while the vocals are well done (more on that later) you should not listen to this if you are suicidal. As usual for any 16 release the lyrics are very depressing, Chris Jerue is constantly shouting “throw in the towel!!!” or “It doesn't mater!” which can make this depressing as it never really lets up. However this not really a deterrent and most every aspect is done to great success.
For the most part the guitars on Bridges are typical, tuned downed and sludgy, but with some twists thrown in. For one there are solos, which kick huge amounts of ass, and there is some faster tempo songs like "You Let Me Down (Again)" which adds a bit of variety to the usual (glorious) drone of the slow, massive riffs. Did I not mention those" Well Bridges is packed with skull-crushingly heavy riffs all done at a moderate pace and all make my neck sore from head banging.
The drums are good and do enough to keep tempo and add great cymbal work to the sonic scape, occasionally Jason Corley will do a creative drum fill here and there to mix it up a bit. Chris Jerue's vocals are very good throughout Bridges, his yell is raspy, delivered with maximum anger and loudness, and is done to great effect, while never becoming overbearing. He fits the music very well. Bassist Tony Baumeister when heard adds a great bass melodies to fill out the already full sound even further. His intro to “Monday Bloody Monday” is, for lack of a better word, sludge-rific.
Bridges may be good technically, but it does have some problems. For instance, all of the songs are good, but most suffer by not being too memorable and some sound like another' like “Flake” and “Permanent Good One”. However not all suffer from this and there are a few standout tracks like, “Throw in the Towel”, “Skin and Bones”, “Monday Bloody Monday”, “You Let Me Down (Again), and “Thorn in Your Side.”
A quick note about the production, it is surprisingly clean for a sludge album which works as it showcases each band members abilities.
I really hope that 16 continues to put out new material because this is really good and I hope that they don't just fade away again until their next revival. If you are a fan of sludge metal promptly stop reading this review and go get it, its well performed, fun to listen to and overall it is a great comeback from a band that many thought had called it quits.