"Sonic Monolith"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Evil aliens disguised as gods tinker with primate biology to create an army of aggressive apes to help conquer the universe. That's the concept behind "Sonic Monolith", I'm all in!

This new sludge trio from North Carolina has come up with a pretty nice debut. Musically, they have just the right balance between Clutch-style stoner boogie and the thicker, more primal sludge of bands like Sleep and High On Fire. At times their aggression shows through, but they also feature lazy slabs of oozing riffs that create a trance like effect. "Astral Drones" is a good example of the latter...simple but hypnotic, in prime Sleep fashion. One thing that really helps Ape Vermin to stand out are the amazing grumpy growls of Brett Lee. They are not death metal growls exactly, but just a really cool smoky grind that sounds like a stoned troll trying to sing. They grab your attention every time and cannot be easily compared to any other sludge vocalist.

Cool riffs abound in "Abominable Hash-Men" and "Witch-Jive", but the title track surprises with a mixture of hard hitting angry metal, total doom drone and a final chug of boogie. The cover art is also striking. Pretty much a great debut from Ape Vermin.