carcharodon-roachstomper-c75996Carcharodon, the collective term for a species of large shark, aren’t exactly the most sophisticated band – the Italian’s debut album was called Macho Metal, for crying out loud. There is nothing they seem to enjoy more than swigging whiskey and blowing holes in their amps. When your influences range from the steady sludge of Eyehategod and High On Fire to speedier death metal bands like Entombed and Carnivore, you should expect a band with pretty big teeth and they don’t disappoint in that respect.

Their swathes of leaden distortion turn the guitars into a real conveyor belt of teeth and leave Roachstomper sounding as dense and weighty as a bag of gravel. Pixo’s “motorbass” tears lumps out of your ears and his nail-gargling “growl” and pig squeals threaten to rip them right off. And the band make all this noise with their tongues planted firmly in their collective cheek. It almost hurts to listen to the “bree, bree” lampoonery of “Pig Squeal Nation” and you’ll want to check out Pixo singing (what sounds like) “Jumbo squid you are my meal, I’ll see you tomorrow in my shit!” Now that has got to be a band playing it for laughs all the way.

Several of the tracks overstay their welcome by digging down a little too deeply. “Marilyn Monrhoid” has a fine, galloping opening that jinks into a neat, head-bobbing sway, yet it’s spoilt by a collapse into a series of needless climaxes. Also, “The Sky Has No Limits” lives up to its own name by recycling the same three chords for a full seven minutes before switching up into an incessant warble that collapses into jarringly oppressive white noise. Even “Stoneface Legacy” is guilty by spending two unnecessary minutes rotating around the same riff.

It’s a hole that their deference to country and blues (they cite ZZ Top as an influence) enables them to dig back out of. “Chupacobra” and “Voodoo Autopsy” are steeped in the genres – you’ll hear it in the snatches of slide and steel guitar and the jaunty licks emerging brightly from their sticky sludge. Their unique song construction allows them to retain the element to surprise at all times. Even taking into account the mesmeric, reverse chanting that bookends “Stoneface Legacy”, who could honestly have foreseen the sample of redneck dialogue and cosmic Mastodon-esque insanity of “Beaumont, TX” or the climax of “Burial In Whiskey Waves” which suddenly explodes into warping, euphoric melody.

Roachstomper is a brute of an album. It’s been fleshed out to bursting point, resulting in plenty of unsightly bulges, yet it’s exactly the kind of deathly bait that will tempt stoner fans into biting. Carcharodon smell blood. Will you let them sink their teeth in?

(7/10 John Skibeat)