Ezekiel’s Hags is Seven Sisters of Sleeps third full length release but their debut on Relapse. Their new home is a fitting one as the band encapsulate so many of the elements that have made Relapse such a flag bearer on extreme music over the years. What this Californian quintet offer up is 11 tracks that use a shovel to pack in doom laden riffs, filthy black metal, hand in grind encrusted hand with death metal passages all sledgehammered into place with a feeling of impending d-beat destruction.
Too much? OK maybe I have over egged the pudding crust there but this is a filthy collection of tunes. Opener “Jones” opens with a blastbeat and then the gates of Hell or at least Heck) are opened. This is 2 minutes of grit in your ear , propelling you forwards and up like some swamp smelling rollercoaster. SSoS are not afraid to put the brakes on and “Denounce” that follows visits Primitive Man, sludge doom territory and the ensuing cacophony is thunderous. Brian Thomas Drums loosen fillings and Chip Blake’s four string rumblings only make things worse….in a good way.
Gutter opens with what sounds like an atmos recording from a wind tunnel before a huge fucking riff courtesy of Brock Elmore and Eddie Bermudez cuts in. Then things go haywire! Tim McAlary’s vocals become more strangled and desperate sounding and we are in full rabid grind territory. Just as I am finding my feet things slow down slightly for an almost Godflesh industrial pounding. This is delicious genre bending stuff. “Plateau” that follows crushes in a similar vein with McAlary becoming more tortured creature from the depths than man in a check shirt.
“Brother’s River” changes things up with a squeal of feedback and a galloping bassline ushering in 3 frantic minutes of metallic sludgecore. The next few songs are more of the same big riffs but lack a little of the impact of the opening half of the album. Although this is possibly as I have been bludgeoned into submission.
Penultimate track “Warmaster” gives my twitching cadaver a further kicking however with a riff which manages to be head crushingly corpulent whilst giving off a graceful air. The melodic guitar line played over the top brings to mind Baroness or Torche and injects an ejaculation of colour into the pitch dark maelstrom.
Seven Sisters of Sleep bring things to a close with a 10 minute behemoth entitled “Bastard Son”. This is like an EP in its own right. Riffs build and collide like fireworks bursting in a night sky. The production by Paul Milner is huge here. Everything just sounds so big. This is music in IMAX. About half way through the track McAlary morphs into Chris Barnes style death metal growls and it works. Then…..a martial drum beat starts up with a black metal riff behind it and fuck it has gotten cold and frostbitten in here now. Proper gurning orange squeezing kvlt Black Metal . They do it well too! Now I just have to justify playing the track in full on my radio show!
Fans of EyeHateGod , the aforementioned Primitive Man and Noothgrush are gonna love the filthy heavy groove of this album whilst hardcore folk and the corpse painted and combat cut off brigades alike will dig the full frontal assault and bludgeoning riffs. The huge sound and full production just puts the icing on the contaminated cake!
(7.5/10 Matt Mason)