"II: The Broken Passage"

By Dr. Abner Mality

If you're on the hunt for the all-purpose sludge band and have no burning thirst for originality in your music, I Exist should work just fine. I hesitate to call this outfit a generic band...the music is a bit too good for that...but really, if you were to compose a list of all the elements necessary for modern-day sludgery, I Exist would satisfy every item on the list. There's heaviness and energy in their music, and they change things up enough to avoid being boring, but boy, they are working a well-worn groove.

13 dirty, raw tunes are churned out during the course of "II: The Broken Passage" and it is immediately apparent that these guys like to keep things concise. No droning sludge swamps that drag on and on...nothing here exceeds 5 minutes in length. That works to the band's advantage and keeps things motoring along pretty good. There's also little true doom to be found...the songs range from medium paced to quite fast, but they are rooted in warm, thick guitar tones in the vein of High On Fire, Zoroaster and about a zillion other bands. There's some actual variety on tap...songs like "Wyvern's Keep", "Acid Strain" and "Fleshold" bring some speed and aggression to the plate while "Black Unicorn", "Lungs of Mire" and "Mammoth Falls" have a more deliberate, slower pace. "The Rider's Ode" is a gentle acoustic piece and "Wretched Earth" even sports some organ work, giving it a slight prog feel. And yes, as you can tell by the song titles, the lyrics are also the sort of drugged out fantasy imagery we've become accustomed to.

It's an enjoyable outing of sludge, but a lot of the riffs have been heard before and I can't escape the feeling that I Exist are content to be members of a pack instead of alpha males.