Minor Fret: An Exercise in Straight Sludge

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Today I want to discuss two artists on seemingly opposite ends of the musical spectrum and the one band that has tied them together. I believe it was my junior year of high school when I purchased Sleep‘s Holy Mountain and not long after, Minor Threat‘s Complete Discography. Both works widely celebrated as seminal pieces in two distinctly different subcultures, but in my mind there was only one subculture: good music.

Doom metal has always been present in my life. I have been listening to Black Sabbath for as long as I can remember. Hell, I have home videos of two year old Boss the Ross headbanging to Paranoid. I did not realize Doom was its own distinct sub-genre, however, until listening to Holy Mountain. The slowness and heaviness overwhelmed me; I felt like Giles Corey at his time of death. “More weight!” I declared. And more weight I received. From this album I delved deeper and deeper into Doom and by proxy Sludge. Electric Wizard, Kyuss, Boris, Melvins, Saint Vitus, Crowbar and multiple other bands united under my banner of DOOM. Holy Mountain has been and will always remain one of my go-to albums. The atmosphere entranced me. The depth intrigued me. The almighty RIFF absorbed me. I was one with the nothingness; I oozed into the walls of my bedroom and melted into oblivion. I drifted into deep space and rode the dragon towards the crimson light. Despite the fact that Sleep’s weedian lyrics are some of my favorite and I believe Dopesmoker is an epic of our times, as someone that did not partake in their sacred herb it was hard to connect with the lyrics past simple enjoyment.

At the same time, however, Punk and Hardcore were becoming more and more appealing to me (my music choices suffer from dissociative identity disorder at times, so just bare with me).

Up until the Summer before my junior year I was the “metal or death!” kid. If it wasn’t metal, few bands notwithstanding, I didn’t want anything to do with it. Punk? It sucked for all I cared. Please excuse my naiveté, for I was young and dumb. One day I realized how truly ridiculous I was being and decided to take a leap of faith. That leap was Ramones‘ self titled album. My world was turned upside down. It was fast, aggressive and had nonsensical lyrics. I was sold. Fast forward to a month or so after I got Holy Mountain, and in my hands you find Minor Threat’s Complete Discography. I already listened to Black Flag and Bad Brains and adored them both, so it was the next logical step in my hardcore journey. From the opening chord and bass rumble on “Filler” I was floored for the next 45 minutes. Ian MacKaye’s primal shouts of lifestyle choices and being sick of people connected with me on a deep level. It was then that I realized I was Straight Edge, but up until that time, didn’t know what to call myself (yes, the guy listening to Electric Wizard and Sleep was straight edge). However, while I was connecting with Minor Threat’s lyrics, I still enjoyed the churning heaviness of Sleep and Doom more so than the unbridled assault that was Hardcore.


An Aside: I would like to take a moment here to clarify some things. Yes, I was Straight Edge. No, I was not one of the beer pouring, joint flicking, vegan STRAIGHTFUCKINGEDGE types. I was more of the, “This is my lifestyle choice, you can have yours, we can still be friends” type, the way it should be. Right now you are probably saying to yourself, “This dude talks about beer all the time. What gives?” That is because beer is delicious, and because of that I am no longer considered Straight Edge. That doesn’t stop me from enjoying some killer music though. Anyways, back to the article at hand and the point of all these words.


Years went by, and I always listened to each of the aforementioned genres/albums in different frames of mind. Dopesmoker doesn’t quite mesh with Out of Step, ideologically or musically. Then one day when I was scouring our beloved Bandcamp I came across an EP entitled Four by a group called Minor Fret. The name is what grabbed my attention, but then I saw the artwork, then the tracklist. “Cool,  a Minor Threat cover band.” I stabbed play, and a thick, crushing, wall of sound hit me square in the face. What had I discovered? It wasn’t natural and most certainly not your normal cover band. This was the sound of Minor Threat raised in the swamps of Louisiana, filtered through a Melvins and Electric Wizard brand of Sludge. I could not control my excitement. The next ten minutes enthralled me with such wonder that I can hardly explain it. One of my most adored hardcore bands was being torn apart, slowed down and revamped with a new sound that I absolutely loved.

Musically this EP, in my opinion, is perfection. Rob Lovell, guitar/bass/drums, blurs the line between Hardcore and Sludge effortlessly. His attack on his instruments has the ferocity of Hardcore; he is slamming the drums with heavy hands and pounding out guitar and bass lines with hammer-like downstrokes. At the same time he is utilizing intricate nuances and variations that are found in Doom and Sludge. Listen to the main riff of “Straight Edge;” he replaces Lyle Preslar’s frantic chord attack with Matt Pike‘s slow string bending chords that really let the music sink into your skin. On top of the slow, pulsing music Aaron Edge delivers a praise-worthy vocal performance. He shouts Ian MacKaye’s lyrics with the animosity of Mike Williams, and his conviction helps in driving the point home. This EP really is a stepping stone (get it?) for both Straight Edge and Sludge. Straight Edge usually has a “fast and loud, in your face” approach while Sludge’s lyrical content is normally fueled by self anguish. The dichotomy has been broken, and now the two sides stand as one in this 10 minute excursion.

This is one of my favorite releases, period. It truly crosses boundaries that I never thought possible and ties together two of my favorite genres. The positive mental attitude that is Minor Threat meets the eternal RIFF that is Sleep, a match made perfectly for me.

Four could very well be a on- time occurrence, but personally I would not mind a continuation of Minor Fret. In the ten minute run time of Minor Threat’s EP,  they only covered four of the eight songs, almost a tease. My hopes are for a full cover of the EP and possibly an Out of Step cover album. Perhaps even a thirty minute hardcore-infused Dopesmoker can be in the works later down the road. But that could be asking for too much.

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Purchase the album digitally on Bandcamp or physically from Holy Mountain Printing

Photos via

  • Dubs

    I enjoyed this article and seeing a little more of who Boss T. Ross, the man, is.

    • BOSSTHEBASTARDROSS

      Thanks Dubs! It was fun writing it, and kinda weird getting as personal as I did.

      • Owlswald

        I can’t see you as a shredder who plays in grey, stormy weather any longer. Everything has changed..

  • IronLawnmower

    Holy Mountain AKA The Smell of Burnt Weed:The Album

  • Owlswald
    • Discharge for me.

      • I found a dark path to that record 😉 Planning to check it out this afternoon.

        • Rad, Link! Please get back to me on it.

          • Let me check how can I pass it up the merch 😉

          • Sent a PM to your personal profile. Poke me if it doesn’t work.

          • You da man Link!!!

          • BOSSTHEBASTARDROSS

            He is!

    • Möthër Shäbübü

      I don’t think I ever had a punk phase.

      • BOSSTHEBASTARDROSS

        You should change that

        • Möthër Shäbübü

          Never really liked Ramones or Black Flag. I thought Bad Brains was considered hardcore. I just went from entry level stuff to the deep end pretty much, so I skipped the punk phase.

          • BOSSTHEBASTARDROSS

            Bad Brains is one of my favorite bands ever.

            Nothing wrong with that.

        • Fast, raw, and abrasive D-Beat punk I’m an absolute sucker for.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWXgC07G5Ng

      • Owlswald

        It’s like sex- it doesn’t last very long but it’s fun

        • Möthër Shäbübü

          I listen to some grind, that’s already like jackrabbit sex. A whole lot of noise, a short burst, and less than a minute later it’s over.

          • Well since we are on the subject of Straight-edge and grind. Here is some sick Straight-edge grind.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vP_0XSpcrf8

          • BOSSTHEBASTARDROSS

            You are an endless supply of grind knowledge Tyree. I thank you for that

          • Haha, thanks. Sorry to clog your comment section up with youtube videos. That was my last.

          • BOSSTHEBASTARDROSS

            No need to apologize good sir. The sharing of music and music knowledge is one of my favorite things in the world. I hold you i high regards!

      • brokensnow

        does MXPX count?

      • i’ll join you in the “no punk” corner. my college friends were obnoxious with their love of punk, and it put a most sour taste in my mouth.

        • NO POWER CHORDS IN VERSES

        • BOSSTHEBASTARDROSS

          Hahaha, this is doom and punk. Not the Jimmy article!

          • i was going to say something at the top, but here it is instead: i loved the article even though it wasn’t my taste. i’m like the guy who votes democratic but watches the more thoughtful newspieces from the republican side

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            Hahahaha!

        • Waynecro

          I also knew a bunch of shitty people who made me dislike punk.
          “Ooooh, that guy over there is cute.”
          “You mean the guy clearly sleeping off a massive dose of heroin on that park bench?”
          “Yeah, he has a mohawk and a Casualties shirt, so he’s super punk. I am automatically in love with him.”
          “You’re going to get robbed and/or hepatitis C. Stop being stupid.”
          “But…but PUNK!”

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        Even I had a punk phase. It started three years ago when I saw the Misfits for the first time. It parallels my current music taste of dad rock and new wave.

        • 🙁

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            Sad face why?

          • I read it wrong. I thought he was dissing punk.

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            Ah, gotcha.

        • brokensnow

          sure does lol

        • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

          “Elvis Costello’s ‘My Aim Is True’ was my first punk CD” -JJD

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            KJU plz! My first punk album was Acid Eaters by The Ramones

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            Good pick!

            “My first punk concert was seeing The Go Go’s in 2010” -JJD

    • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

      I’ve never had much of a punk phase, though I listen to a good bit of it here and there, but the first one that really got me:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yV-R7QnFDqI&list=PLbgQOOlKVTpzkLKsq0lB7VQbT9s_21wAA

      • brokensnow

        These guys were always……weird…..

        • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

          Part of the allure. Even with punk, I started off at the nerdy end of things. :-p

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        I love Husker Du. Zen Arcade is one of the greatest albums ever.

        • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

          “Living End’ is still the loudest live CD I’ve ever heard. Not the heaviest but the loudest. Having that one on full blast on a good surround sound setup is perfect for scaring away all the birds in the neighborhood and making the grass migrate north for the winter.

    • Waynecro

      I still kind of like the Descendents.

  • Right on Bossman. I always enjoy your write-ups.

    • BOSSTHEBASTARDROSS

      Thank you so much Tyree!

  • HAIL! Cool article dude, enjoyed reading this

  • brokensnow

    mmm…. wish everyone was as varied in opinion(sort of) and taste.

  • BOSSTHEBASTARDROSS

    Oh, just so everyone knows, the EP is NYP on bandcamp.

  • This is a dope write up Ross! I love the concept of a sludge infused Minor Threat. I tend to enjoy most anything with punk roots, so this right up my alley.

    • BOSSTHEBASTARDROSS

      Thank you, Mr. Deuce! I actually think a second release will be in the works soon.

      • Ever heard of Satanic Threat? Minor Threat covers replaced with jokey Satan lyrics. The vocals are funny and meant to be.
        https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=t8Zdl2wXnRc#

        • BOSSTHEBASTARDROSS

          Haha, i have not. I’ll check it out.

        • Dave Vincent’s Perm

          HAIL IN THE SIGN OF SATAN

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Too bad they’ll never be one of us.

  • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

    Good article, Ross! Never would’ve pictured you as every being straight edged, though.

    http://www.cherrybombed.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Joey-DeMaio-Chug.gif

    • BOSSTHEBASTARDROSS

      That there is Joey DeMaio.

      And as mentioned, no longer completely straight edge.

      • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

        Lol, I know on both. I knew you’d get a kick out of that gif, though.

        • BOSSTHEBASTARDROSS

          I always get kicks out of Manowar gifs.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Lubing up for some serious band member wrestling.

  • PostBlackenedWhaleGaze

    Love Minor Threat. I kinda approached them in a similar way. I was all metal in junior high/high school, I was learning guitar and that’s all I wanted to play. Then near the end of high school/start of college, I learn of this band called Fugazi. Absolutely blows me away. Through them I logically started listening to Minor Threat, Black Flag, Dead Kennedy’s, Descendants, etc. Funny how I used to think all punk was just Green Day clones, 3 chord shit. I was an idiot.

    Edit: Oh yeah, I also worship at the Iommian-Sleep thrown.

    • BOSSTHEBASTARDROSS

      Excellent story. I was also very happy when i found out punk doesn’t always suck.

    • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

      It can get highly experimental, though that’s pretty rare with punk. The Membranes are a perfect example of when punk skates very very close to prog territory.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kE9taFzaKx8

      • PostBlackenedWhaleGaze

        That was pretty cool, what else should I check out from them?

        • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

          Shit, everything, really. They started off as straight up punk and went more and more out there as time went on. Just YT ‘The Membranes band playlist’ and go from there.

  • This is an excellent writing, Boss. Thanks for sharing it.

    I’m not a sludge fan, but Holy Mountain is one of my favorite Doom Metal records ever. Thanks to you.

    • You like Doom metal though right?

    • ** OFF-TOPIC **

      WHY IN THE WORLD’S FUCK THE OFFICE’S A.C. BROKE UP TODAY!?

      43 Cº OF “THERMIC SENSATION”. MY ASS IS FRYING.

    • BOSSTHEBASTARDROSS

      Thank you, Link! I strive to reach your level of excellent writing.

      • Wow, what an honor. You’re certainly a terrific writer, no doubts!!! This is probably my favorite piece of yours.

        • BOSSTHEBASTARDROSS

          Not many to choose from, haha, but thank you!

  • brokensnow

    Cant get more punk than this!
    https://youtu.be/a0ZIECUOmK4

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    Which one of you is Megapsychoticone on bandcamp?

  • Eliza

    I’ve never known about these guys, but I love sludge and other things similar to it, so this is really doing it for me. Awesome piece!

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Thanks Eliza!

      • Eliza

        You’re welcome!

  • i just cant condone the straight edge lifestyle

    • Joaquin Stick

      Just say no to saying no.

      • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

        “We don’t just say no, we’re too busy saying ‘yeaaaah!'” -NWA

        • Señor Jefe El Rosa

          I’m so glad an NWA lyric made it to the comment section on my post.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      And that is perfectly cool.

  • The Tetrachord of Archytas

    The personal back story is really cool. It sets the mind up to hear things through your ears in a weird way.

  • Waynecro

    Nice article, Boss! I enjoyed learning about how your musical tastes developed.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Thank you Mr. NECROPREZ!

  • Dagon

    Most excellent, my friend. I love seeing music reimagined. I have never spent time with Minor Threat before but Minor Fret is just the way I like it.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Thank you for the kind words, oh mighty fish god! I’m glad you like the jams.