Gurt are fast gaining a reputation as British underground heavy metal favourites with a loyal following. Coming from the same mould as fellow sludge lords Bong Cauldron and Slabdragger, they also share a stylistic commonality with North American bands like Weedeater and Dopethrone. Theirs is a supercharged take on the sludge/doom metal genre where the emphasis is very much on “party”. New release, “Skullossus” will be eagerly awaited by their faithful fans and add to an already powerful sonic arsenal.
Opening with “Welcome To The Shit”, a spoken, theorising piece reflecting on the fate of humanity and the inevitable loss of identity whilst referencing the Orwellian nightmare, it doesn’t take long to get down to business. The Gurt we know and love blast off with heads down fury on “Gimme The Night Any Day”. Thick, lumbering riffs and vocals full of rage make for a sludge feast before an orgiastic, head banging force is unleashed. This simply feels edible and there’s no subtlety to come either as “Battlepants” rages with an almost hardcore punk aura that feels like a 100 chainsaws coming through your front door.
Plenty of grooves are the mix. From the slinky, Clutch style funk of “Double Barrelled Shot Pun” to the bluesy, tongue in cheek Bon Scott era AC/DC feel on “The Crotch Wobbler”, there’s going to be a guaranteed party in your ears. All the while, there’s that Weedeater influenced density but with a testosterone fuelled boost. Where one band has a more swampy, gravelly sound, Gurt demand an immense, physical explosion driven by a rhythm section of Dave Blakemore on bass and Bill Jacobs’ thundering work behind the kit.
The album’s mid-section contains short stabs moving from amped up Mothers Of Invention freak to punk-like bursts of angst. The unleashed riff force is never far away though and personal favourite, “John GarSeeYa Later” will surely stand as one of this year’s great underground songs. Propulsive and with a driving Motörhead filth, it’s at once a brutal, sexy, funky piece of orgiastic hedonism driven by tribal drums and the churned riffs of Rich Williams. Gareth Kelly’s vocals are rabid and scything, tearing through the muscular rhythm section making for an urgency that demands the release of every primal urge. This is the beauty if this album: the immediacy and total sense of wanton abandon.
The two part closers of “The Ballad Of Tom Stone And Red Montagne” are darker, doom style offerings that mark a slight departure from the previous tracks. The sledgehammer riffs have a breadth that is all too easy to lose yourself in. A sparse, echoed outro leaves you to contemplate what the hell you’d just been hit with and brings the album full circle.
Gurt are on a winner here. “Skullossus” has a powerful, live feel and these tracks will be massive in a gig setting. They already have a loyal fan base and this release will without doubt add more. Wrapped in garish, fantastical artwork that is just so “Gurt”, this is essential listening.
(9.5/10 Johnny Zed)