When it comes to music, Finland is most commonly associated with Death and Black Metal but lurking amongst its underbelly is an oozing pool of sludge, produced by Demonic Death Judge who return on March 27th with their new album “The Trail” via Suicide Records. Don’t be fooled by the cover work picturing a beautiful Scandinavian landscape and the album’s opening instrumental with its soul-warming, lazy, country and blues-infused guitar ditty, this album gets loud and dirty really quickly.
After the aforementioned opening, it’s full steam ahead with layer upon layer of fuzz and high energy sludge only permeated by beautiful guitar harmonics. ‘Filthy As Charged’ picks up from the intro and thrusts itself upon you, consuming your ears with its rough guitars and powerfully belted vocals before ‘Hardship’ follows next and delivers some incredible guitar work and a level of groove incorporated, but all the while it maintains the same level of intensity.
There is an awful lot to be said for how this album is put together, point perfect production that gives time and space to all elements, allowing the bass work to shine where needed, the backing productions also elevated and expertly intertwined, the guitars while fuzzy as you’d expect are not lost in their own distortion and the drums sound thunderous as all hell.
‘The Trail’ from which the album takes its name is an eight-minute epic, in places, it’s melodic and haunting, in others it’s furious and frantic, the perfect balance that allows the track to rival its peers from the likes of YOB or the early work of ISIS (who now have renamed all digital assets to IsisTheBand for obvious reasons).
That country blues vibe I mentioned that opens the album? It returns within ‘We Have To Kill’ and channels just a little of ZZ Top. This is such an interesting album it’s almost hard to really dig in and analyse it all in this space, this would be a record I’d recommend any listen to simply because of its construction, talent and engineering. A true feat of what can be done with the sludge sub-genre when you’re willing to think just a little outside the box.