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Toll Of The Wound EP

Broken Limbs (2014)
Rating: 5/10

Toll Of The Wound is the third EP from Scottish doomsters Of Spire & Throne. Formed in 2009, the band consists of vocalist / guitarist Ali Lauder, bassist Matt Davies and drum doctor Graham Stewart, plus a solid lump of gluey sludge to marry their instruments.

Three tracks are on offer, each of them being a turgid chunk of maudlin gloom which wade in syrupy guitars, and furthermore is backwashed with an unhealthy dose of silt. Lumbering, laborious, gluggy and fuzzed out, Of Spire & Throne do nothing enchanting and only exist to clank, plunder and nod in dirty, lazy fashion. Is it doom? Not really. In fact it’s the usual slice of slow motion sludge cake constructed of clumps of mud that crust the guitar and bass strings.

Vocally, there is nothing that Lauder does to differentiate himself from the countless other vocalists who find themselves groaning through the choking waters of the sludge metal quagmires. It’s gruff, gurgled and barking as words go. As ‘Legacy’ rolls into ‘Tower Of Glass’ like a bulldozer ploughing through a mudslide, I’m numbed with boredom by the seemingly endless tirade.

So-called sludge metal is an acquired taste, but it leaves a bitter stain upon my ears and tongue. It’s not that I don’t get it; it’s just so darn tiresome, with ‘Tower Of Glass’ acting as a mere flat line of smothering fuzzy smog occasionally tampered with by those tapping drums.

Of Spire & Throne exist to dabble with dissonance, and nothing else. ‘Cascading Shard’ is a thermonuclear throb of gargantuan proportions, but it’s not potent or scary; instead, it lumbers like a lead balloon filled with muck to the point that it cannot get off the ground due to its bloated nature. C’mon, who really finds such a fat troll of a sound interesting? Sure, bands of this ilk only set out to ruin as they occasionally bring their mighty club foot down on the skull, but it really is torturous to behold something so slow and above all dull.

The fact that the press release comments that this EP is “30 minutes of relentlessly, brutal, suffocating heaviness” at least means that all involved are aware of its ponderous nature, but for me, such a record remains uninteresting throughout and merely evokes images of Godzilla wading through a mire and sinking into its murky depths.

Long, slow and cumbersome, Toll Of The Wound is just another cog in the sludge genre wheel.

Neil Arnold

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