Sludge: it’s like progressive desert rock mixed with groove metal; like Kyuss mixed with Lamb of God; down-tuned guitars chugging mightily alongside a thumping bass, screaming vocals and tom-heavy drumming. Sound like your jam? Then I recommend you check out the new album by -(16)-, titled Lifespan Of A Moth. For someone who generally lives in the world of “alternative” rock (QotSA, Kasabian, Mutemath, Tame Impala, Beck), I quite enjoyed this beast of a record, and will do my best to sum it up here.
“Landloper” kicks off the record with sounds captured from a pier before being pulled into the groove by the rhythm section, quickly followed by palm-muted, distorted guitars. A heavy groove carries the song while frontman Cris Jerue screams through the verses. His voice is coated in reverberation, which is made evident when the music pauses and he lets his vocal lines trail off before the music is kicked back into gear. The tones on this first track are massive. If you like the “wall of sound” effect heard on big rock records, Lifespan Of A Moth deserves a listen.
“Peaches, Cream and The Placenta” starts with some interesting swirling effects that take a dive as the song begins. The track goes from heavy, breakdown-sounding moments to faster riffing from guitarist Bobby Ferry. There’s also some galloping to be heard, which showcases good song writing from this Los Angeles-based band. “The Morphinist” was a great mix of heavier sounds and lighter verses which made the heavier moments that much more intense. There’s a trance-inducing aspect to this band: they know how to use rhythm and arrangements to keep you moving. A guitar riff quietly takes over while the band waits to punch in at full volume, impacting the listener much more than if everything was kept at full blast the whole way through.
Lifespan Of A Moth was recorded and engineered by Jeff Forest, and he did a fantastic job. The band helped mix it with Jeff, and I can tell there was a lot of thought put into it. The record is heavy, clear, and dynamic. The use of effects is very well done, and the songs sound balanced. “The Absolute Center Of A Pitch Black Heart” follows with a sound that leans closer to Thrash Metal, complete with galloping chugging on the guitar and half-time jams that I would love to mosh to. “Gallows Humour” is a testament to the theatrical aspect of -(16)-. An overdriven guitar riffs its way through a vamp until a drum break announces the beginning of this slow epic as the bass, guitar, and synthesizer explode through the speakers. It’s an instrumental track that that has a ritualistic, tribal sound, perhaps paying tribute to rhythm itself. “Secrets of Curmudgeon” is my favorite song on this album. It’s equally heavy and groovy, and incorporates interesting effects on the lead guitar track at the bridge. There’s also some great drum fills which are interestingly panned and sound great. “Pastor In A Coma” had a few moments that remind me of Korn. “George” closes Lifespan Of A Moth with a southern rock jam that has some great head-banging moments.
Those looking for a heavy, groovy, well-written and well-produced sludge record would do well to check out Lifespan Of A Moth. I know I’ll be listening again.
Written by Dave Tone
*edited by Kate Erickson