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Album Review: INDIAN From All Purity

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One of the more underrated bands in the sludge/doom milieu – certainly one of the most unheralded of the Chicago metal scene as a whole – Indian hasn't necessarily done themselves any favors in taking three years apiece to follow up on their last couple of albums. After knocking out releases at a respectable clip up through 2008, the band only have two releases to show for the past half-decade: 2008's superb Relapse debut, Guiltless, and now From All Purity, due out in February.

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It's not so much that the individual band members are tied up with different projects: Bill Bumgardner drums for Lord Mantis, and Will Lindsay recently became touring guitarist for A Storm of Light, but those wouldn't seem to be insurmountable hurdles.

Quality control, then. This is not a sludge act that throws a bunch of downtuned whole notes to tape and then calls it a day; they have a member (Sean Patton) whose instrument is listed as "noise", for fuck's sake. Patton earns his paycheck this time around, the abrasive electronics taking front-and-center with far more prominence than on Guiltless. The pulsing backwash of sizzling drone underscoring "Directional" is rendered subtle by producer Sanford Parker, yet draws attention to itself through sheer brute force insistence.

That's a mere amuse bouche for "Clarify", a rhythmless track that features Patton more or less solo – there appears to be some light rhythm guitar buried in the background, thought that, too, could be a sample – building tension one layer of harsh cacophony at a time, almost a beatless version of something like Death Grips. As one of only six tracks on the album, though, From All Purity could have arguably used at least one more purist sludge jam to round out the running time.

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And about that Sanford Parker, Chi-town's go-to knob twiddler for the extreme set: the man might as well be considered the de facto sixth member of Indian, his flawless production nailing the precise balance between low end heft and cavernous expansiveness that the band's tightrope act – vacillating as it does between stubborn obtuseness and riff-contingent accessiblity – absolutely requires in order to succeed.

Ultimately, the only gripe to be made about From All Purity is its brevity; at 40 minutes it's roughly in line with the breadth of Guiltless, but where that album boasted seven tracks of varying length and a unifying aesthetic, From All Purity is essentially five cuts in the 6-8 minute length plus one extended noise experiment which, falling as the second-to-last track in sequence, is more disruptive than complmentary.

It's not a fatal flaw. From All Purity does best its predecessor in terms of showing a band willing to take risks and push their sound forward, from the Godflesh-meets-Khanate "Rape" to the dour, industrial doom of album closer "Disambiguation". Far from a mere Eyehategod or Neurosis clone, Indian are a well-rounded quintet capable of appealing to fans of groups as disparate as BatillusPelican or High on Fire.

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