Cavity – On the Lam – 4/5
Whenever discussion of the ‘essential’ sludge artists emerges, this is one artist that never gets a mention and I can’t figure out why. They were amongst the first in the early 90s, unique enough to stand out from the crowd, and yet embodying everything that should be savoured within the genre; from the deep doom like bass to the punk attitude in the vocals; the thundering drums to crunchy guitar riffs. This is one of the originators of the genre, and remains one of the best within it.
With a bassy distortion thick enough to have fellow sludge pioneers ‘Eyehategod’ blushing, the bass layers on the addictive doom-paced riffs lavishly throughout the proceedings, unafraid of laying down a rhythmic groove to form the core of the track. Combined with the dissonance of the guitars, with a tremendous variety of pace, even on occasion utilising feedback to produce a rhythmic unpredictable chaos to the proceedings, he spends most of his time laying an upper layer to the track, a unique higher pitched harmonising rhythm to complement to the hard hitting bass work.
Unfortunately, this album isn’t without weakness; the drumming often feels incredibly basic. Hard hitting and prominent, it nonetheless feels unenthused, and too content to allow the other instrumentation take over. This complacency feels out of place in the otherwise thick despair-ridden dirty tone. The vocals are aggressively rasped, sparingly used and frequently battling to be heard over the thick toned cacophony of the bass, performing admirably in his quest to be heard.
This artist has a small discography, each album different from the last and each with a notable flaw. Here the drums feel rather basic, in ‘Supercollider’ it is the vocals that suffer, and in ‘somewhere between…’ the pacing – the latter feeling weaker than the former – but despite these issues, there isn’t a particularly weak album in their back catalogue; something of a rare feat. This may not be the best sludge album to have been made, but it was written by what should be known as one of the better sludge bands to have existed. Probably one of the most underrated sludge acts.
Highlights: Boxing the Hog, Sung From a Goad, Sweat and Swagger