Old-School SludgeReview by Metallattorney. He is the law.
It seems like I have been reviewing an awful lot of sludge lately. That is fine with me. When sludge is done right, it sounds incredible. The heavy riffs, gruff vocals, and angry lyrics are a combination that speaks to me, particularly after a long day at work dealing with clients. Unfortunately, over the years sludge has become bastardized into an almost radio-friendly style by the likes of Mastodon and Baroness. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy Mastodon and Baroness at times, however their effect on the style has continued to be felt to this day and few bands play the style the way Crowbar, Acid Bath, and others played it. But we seem to be seeing a resurgence of sorts very recently with groups like Lord Dying and Godhunter.
Godhunter are a Tucson, AZ-based band that plays a style of sludge similar to that of Crowbar. The songs are frequently moderately-paced, with thundering riffs and angry, shouted vocals from singer David Rodgers. The songs do possess some progressive structures keeping things varied and interesting. Godhunter is not concerned with making things simplistic, but at the same time, the songs do not linger longer than they should. There is something to be said for that.
The band kicks things off with "Despite All" which starts off with a spoken word segment explaining a lot of the ills of the world, including lawyers destroying justice, which I take a little offense to. It is a common complaint about my chosen field however and I certainly understand that. "Snake Oil Dealer" is clearly the best song on this release with the terrific guitar work and crawling riffs. The vocals work much better on this track as well. "Shooting Down the Sun" stands out as well due to the acoustic guitar melodies and generally somber tone. The non-spoken vocals are incredible on this track with a lot more emotion than the rest of the album. I could have done without the spoken parts though which tend to detract from the rest of the song.
The only real issue I have with this album is a small one. Apart from "Shooting Down the Sun", there is almost no variation in the vocals. Occasionally the backing vocals kick in, keeping things interesting for awhile, but for the most part, Rodgers is a fairly one-note vocalist. That is not unusual in sludge metal, or a lot of metal in general, but for some reason it seems much more pronounced on this album.
Apart from that one minor squabble, this album does a lot to recapture the feel and style of old sludge metal. And that is definitely a good thing.
I give this album 4 out of 5 stars.