"Black Fangs"

By Earthdog

Finally the North Carolinian sludge outfit Sourvein deliver a full-length album. It has been nothing but EP's and split albums since their 2002 album 'Will to Mangle' so I was starting to wonder if they had it in them to write a complete piece of work.

Not only have they delivered a monster of an album, they have also again proven themselves to be America's premier sludge-act even though many people still don't get it. Led by T-Roy Medlin, the band have had a revolving-door on their line-ups over the years, and on this album Medlin is joined by guitarist “King James” Haun (Ol’ Scratch), bassist Ahmasi O’Daniel and drummer Jeffrie Moen.

While other bands that play within the sludge-genre have wandered off at times into other styles, Sourvein have always been and continues to be uncompromising doomy sludge. Their music has never been flashy and they certainly are not out to impress with their musical ability, they have always been 100% focused on delivering misery, destruction and excruciating heaviness without any bullshit.

On the one hand, 'Black Fangs' sounds like they are revisiting familiar territory but at the same time, they manage to evoke pure emotion on this album as well as bludgeoning you with some incredible riffage. The album begins with 'Fangs' which is one of the most riff-driven tracks. The band is of course, very heavy with deep bass, crushing guitar and pulverizing drumming but what sets the band apart from other bands in the swamp of sludge is T-Roy Medlin's vocals which comes across like a black-metal hillbilly drunk off his ass. His voice has the raw growl, the soulful tone and the gritty emotion all rolled into one very unique package. If 'Fangs' sounds a little predictable, then the following 'Society's Blood' should put aside any reservations you might have on the album. This track really highlights the band as a punishing unit of musicians, check out the drumming on this track especially. 'Night Eyes' and the faster than usual 'Gasp' are both extremely aggressive and with a tune like 'Gasp' it must said that Sourvein are really pushing the sludge-envelope to the extreme to the point when this might be beyond sludge and closer to extreme-metal. I don't think they have ever sounded so aggressive and angry as they do here.

'Holy Transfusion' is one track that is an effort to get through with its layers of atonal noise and I am not even sure myself if this track really deserves its almost 6 minute running time. By the end of the track, it sounds like the band is about implode and self-destruct musically. However this is the only track on 'Black Fangs' that is questionable in my opinion. 'Flux' is the albums shortest track and it's basic structure is intense but hard to remember once this album is over and done with. 'Nomadic' doesn't offer up anything new but totally slays at the same time and is a major highlight of the album and an instant Sourvein classic. If this song is like trying to swim through quicksand, the following 'Gemini' literally drowns you in it. This track is so low-down and dirty, it is almost sickening. The song has the massive riffs but it is the uncompromising groove that eventually seals the deal that this is some of the finest sludge-metal ever created. 'Bleeding Charm' is more evidence that the band is really stretching themselves as they keep the rawness going with a kind of black-metal ambience. It is a pity this song is so short, only 3 minutes but it is a killer lead-in to the albums last track, 'Nocturnal/Negative Plane.'

This final, verging on epic track is a lumbering doom groover that gets more and more sick, the longer it goes. The guitar sound seems to mutates itself into some kind of sullen and ill-tempered beast by the end of its 7 minutes and it is a very appropriate way to finish up the album. Fans of Sourvein should be more than satisfied with 'Black Fangs' and anyone who hasn't experienced this band at loud volumes, needs to immediately. Apart from one song which doesn't quite work for me and one forgettable filler-tune, this is a masterpiece and it is probably the most consistent release Sourvein have ever put out. With killer riffs, grooves and just enough experimental appeal to keep it interesting, this is an essential purchase for 2011......9/10