Hey all! Michael here and welcome back to another addition of The Wednesday Sludge! Big shout out to Nic for covering last week’s sludge.
This week we are going to keep things in the Midwest (but just a bit more barren and decrepit). When it comes to sludge I prefer either atmospheric with an ethereal touch to it, or heavy and dirty with an aftertaste of “fuck you” that’s left in your mouth. In regards to Ohio’s very own Witchhelm, they find themselves combining both styles.
I first came across these Akron swamp dwellers with their 2016 release of Jötunn. The self-titled track has a sunny day dread to it, the movements treading forward with heft. The notes feel like they’re making their way through the mud, and the sun shine feeling bubbles the song using bright bits of energy. All of this trance like movement leads into “Swamp Bitch”. Other than the trademark sounds of sludge and doom, Witchhelm is known for their use of occult themed lyricism. Coming right off the opening self-titled track, “Swamp Bitch” shuts out that sunlight for ominous and dark distortion. This gives way to a heavy sick ass jam that slowly introduces the following lyrics: “Faceless Gods, Restless Dreams, The Harp of Sovereign Prays/ The Calling out from beyond, to hymn the druid haze/ Deep Beneath the giant sun, the withered titan/ Hellian, we gather among, the wolves ocean.” That easily has to be one of the coolest verses in the world of spirits and magic around today.
Towards the end of 2016 the band released Dead Nights Of The Moon Fear, their third official LP. I got to say this is one stellar album that captures both that deep sinister grit to sludge, and distant tones of isolation in aura. “And So Doom Begets Life” starts with a simple acoustic guitar intro that rocks the listener into a hazy groove. Vocals kick in and things get a little rock and roll for a time being. While “Grave Sage” is a beautiful acoustic guitar piece, “Tombs Of Thorns” slips back into the intense side of the band, echoing blackened vocals and deep riffs. Dead Nights of The Moon Fear has a lot more going for it in atmosphere, with a chunk of the songs giving off this breath of barren lands and despair.
Witchhelm is a great band that hits a terrific happy medium between styles of sludge. You get the songs that are full of rage, the night sky screaming with spirits and devilry. And then there are the tracks ringing with distance, echoing the somber cries of pain and loneliness. Honestly ya’ll you can’t go wrong in the Witchhelm discography. Below you can stream Dead Nights Of The Moon Fear, but I’ve also included a link to check out Jötunn if you want heavier jams.
Let us know your thoughts on Witchhelm in the comments, and look forward to bringing ya’ll more sludge next week! Rock the fuck on friends!