All Roads Lead North

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Last year, many metal critics hailed 2014 as the year of “hideous sludge”. Hard-hitting Toilet reporter Ed even dedicated a fair portion of his Soundtrack to Your Annihilation series exploring the characteristics and primary exporters of the silty and sinister sound. However, from the salt-sewn fields and scorched earth of 2014 a glorious phoenix is arising. Friends, 2015 may very well be the year of beautiful sludge.

“Beautiful sludge? Isn’t that a bit of a misnomer?” I know, I’ve asked myself the same thing, but with bands like TorcheNeurosis, and Pelican all painting breathtaking sonic landscapes of picturesque swamps, it’s hard to deny that there isn’t something glorious emerging from the sewage like the Lady of the Lake in the tale of Arthur Eld.  New Neurosis should be enough to get any living man or woman’s blood pumping, but one of the releases I’m most excited about is the double threat issued by Arizona trio North. And to think I had never even heard of this band until last week!

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On June 2nd, Prosthetic Records is releasing two albums (with another somewhere down the line) from the atmospheric/post-metal masters. The first, a reissue 2006’s Siberia is a largely instrumental affair seemingly incongruous with the arid surroundings the band calls home. Siberia invokes the wintry chill and suffocating isolation of its namesake region, but there’s a radiant array of colors that erupts like some unexpected aurora from behind the grey clouds of smothering reverb, ponderous drums, and avalanche riffs. For those who missed this album on the first go-around, gaze upon the icy seracs and brave the unknown with this reissue.

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The second album, 2014’s Metanoia EP, is also getting the reissue treatment. This time around, North have added pained vocals to act as your spiritual guide along your journey to self-enlightenment. All of the trace elements of heavy and heavenly established with the debut release are in full effect here, but there’s an added thoughtfulness, an extra pensive quality to the typical sludge murk that catches you unawares more often than not. The vocals are a welcome addition that inject an added ray of sunshine to an otherwise deadly vision quest, giving you that last bit of hope to triumph over the hardships of survival.

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So what sets North apart from the other post-metal, atmospheric, and sludge bands in their field? This trio is able to craft expert songs that perfectly balance brutality and finesse, rage and grace, light and dark. Each song itself is a memorable tale, but all tracks collected together paint a remarkable picture. Although cut from the same vine as more hard-rocking bands like Kylesa and Helms Alee, North have an artfulness and a beauty all their own, less sweat-soaked streets of New Orleans and more contemplative depths of Walden lake, if Walden was actually a swamp.

Like what you hear? Be sure to follow North on Facebook and buy some albums on Bandcamp. Also, if you live on the West Coast or in the Midwest, you’re in luck, because North are coming to a town near you. Check out the tour dates and support acts below.

6/10 Phoenix, AZ – Yucca Tap Room
6/11 Riverside, CA – Mission Tobacco Lounge
6/12 Glendale, CA – Complex *
6/13 San Jose, CA – The Caravan ^
6/14 Chico, CA – 1078 ^
6/15 Eugene, OR – The Wandering Goat ^
6/16 Portland, OR – Rotture ^
6/17 Seattle, WA – Black Lodge ^
6/18 Spokane, WA – The Pin *
6/19 Billings, MT – The Railyard *
6/20 Fort Collins, CO – Foot Foot Fest *
6/21 Denver, CO – 7th Circle Collective *
6/22 Albuquerque, NM – Burt’s Tiki Lounge
6/24 Tucson, AZ – Club Congress
8/10 Tucson, AZ – Flycatcher (w/ Primitive Man, Northless)
* with Secrets of the Sky
^ with Secrets of the Sky & Cold Blue Mountain

(Photos VIA and VIA)

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  • I’d go if one of those dates was in The Cheese State.

    I’m listening to the BC embed of Metanoia on my MacBook and wondering about the intro: “is that tape hiss or amplifier hum?” Cool.

    • The W.

      Read that as tape piss. Was confused.

      • Haha. I”m about to dip out for a while so I’m not going to exert the effort to listen on headphones and crack this case wide open 😉

      • W, I am going to listen to these recs later.

        I am on full day Gojira binge. As wiener cousins, I hope you understand my current position.

        GL

      • Stockhausen

        Inappropriate, flagged.

      • Vladimir Poutine

        Did someone say “tape piss”?

    • I was thinking about you when a discussion of cheese curds came up today.

      GL

  • Uh, what about the South?
    #getchapull #SDMF #blessedhellride #TheSouthWillRiseAgain #FromItsHoverround

    • I enjoyed Crowbar’s new album

    • zaak

      Full US dates are coming in August/September/November.

  • Tyree

    I never understood the appeal towards Torche, Neurosis, and Pelican. Just boring as hell to me. Skipped Neurosis at MDF to go back to the hotel and drink beer instead.

    • Hubert

      You skipped Neurosis? Oh dear….

      • Tyree

        Yup. Saw them at MDF 3 years ago and was bored as fuck.

    • That’s a paddlin’

      While I never found myself really interested in Pelican apart from a song or two and don’t quite know how to feel about Torche, I must say unto you thusly: Dudeman! WHAT! Dude, Neurosis, Bro.

    • Skipped Neorosis? You missed out. They are a top of the line live band. They have a unique ability to captivate an audience.

      • Tyree

        I saw them before. I felt none of that. Not for me at all.

    • Scrimm

      I’m that way with almost all this stuff, but Through Silver in Blood from Neurosis is awesome. Top notch live band too.

      • Tyree

        Not saying they are not good. I’m just saying I can’t get into what they are doing. They played well the last time I saw them, it just didn’t click for me.

        • Scrimm

          I saw your other comment right after my last one. At least you’ve had the experience to form your opinion on. Honestly it’s only that one album I really like, and they probably don’t play live shows like they did when I saw them in 96.

    • it’s just grindcore slowed down 1000%, p much the same thing

    • Pagliacci is Kvlt O)))
      • Tyree

        Probably so. Butt fuckit.

        • sweetooth0

          Neurosis played some of my favorite songs during their set, but yeah, a good time to hit the picnic tables and drink beer. There was a sea of people sitting on the ground during that set.

  • Guacamole Jim

    This is great stuff! I’m super glad my cubicle is behind everyone else’s, so no-one can see me jamming out on a daily basis.

  • That’s a paddlin’

    Metanoia does sound nice, not far in though.

  • Max

    Does Izah count as sludge? ‘Cos they’re very good and they’ve released a monster of an album this year:

    https://izahband.bandcamp.com/

    • The W.

      Ayyy, I think they fall somewhere in these boundaries. Great release. I knew I was missing something that list.

      • Max

        I just researched it myself and “doom” and “post-metal” seem to be the operative categories. But I honestly don’t think “doom” is doing it justice.

        • Dagon

          Definitely fit well under the sludge and post-metal umbrella. I liked the album a lot but find myself not wanting to listen to it on the basis of length. The songs are too long.

  • RustyShackleford

    Have been getting more and more into sludge in the past ten glorious months of toilet dwelling. Definitely digging these guys. Also the last Torche album rocked my got dang socks off. Yep.

  • Hubert

    I woke up today with an intense need for Neurosis, and now this drops in front of me. What a coincidence.

    This shit is good shit. Bedankt Dubz

  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    alien music—with destruction/nuclear annihilation—-as chords—to sing
    “north”—towards purity –and true purpose
    —-
    both at once–full vol
    https://youtu.be/iowuqv3efNM

    -https://youtu.be/7jPMXzxvdL8

    • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

      1st vid mute–2nd vid full vol

  • Stockhausen

    Mmm. I will be Northing as soon as I am able.

  • The Metatonia stuff is pretty damn crushing.

  • HessianHunter

    North is excellent live. Go see them if you can.

  • Dagon

    I love all facets of sludge, it is one of my favorite metal subgenres, if not the favorite. North reminded me of Blizzard At Sea who won best unsigned band in Iowa (http://www.toiletovhell.com/the-best-band-in-iowa-is-blizzard-at-sea/ ) – the best band in the competition so far. Alaska also comes to mind.

    Their sound is big, dramatic and poignant. Just the right amount of post-rock flair to add to the awesomeness.

    • Pagliacci is Kvlt O)))

      You won my heart at Blizzard At Sea.

  • I started out listening to a lot of sludge last year but I’ve began to regress. For some reason, sludge just isn’t tickling my taint right now. I suspect I’ll come back around to it in a few months. I hate how my brain decides to listen to different music at different times of the year. I start out hating an album then find out five years later that it is amazing. When I first listened to Surgical Steel, I didn’t enjoy it at all. One day when I was going to college, I decided to listen to it again and absolutely loved it.

  • Th’load&th’road

    Good stuff for the right mood, thanks Dub! I’m also with Tyree though…sometimes post-this post-that Neurosis type things wander off into boring douchebaggery. Then the “right mood” becomes “oh ferfuxsakes shut up drama queens, you’re no longer painting emotional landscapes you’re wasting my fucking time!” Just count to fucking four (or 5 if you’re fancy and the drummers drunk and missed the 1) and play some fkn MEROL!
    #settledownbeavis Then that gets old and I need my emotional landscape water colored for me again…I’m, like, so,like, complicated. Like

    • The W.

      lol, I see what you mean.