“Your ability to know happiness depends on your ability to know pain,” wrote Argentine writer Macedonio Fernandez, a quote cited by Buenos Aires newcomers I, The Weapon. If there’s a genre out there suited to channeling inner turmoil, it’s sludge, but perhaps this quote is an indication that those who create such bleak music do so because it is their only chance at happiness elsewhere.
I, The Weapon’s debut is not simple straightforward sludge, however. Rather, it wallows in macabre atmospheres, unfurling gradually like dark ambient despite being propelled primarily by crashing cymbals and cumbersome guitars. Sabrina S. Acosta’s rhythmic percussion ensures there’s a hypnotic quality to the way these ten tracks trudge along, and it makes the monolithic riffs, elevated by guitarist Dario D. Ramirez’s strained growls, all the more impactful when they do rise out of the murk to smack you in the gut.
For a debut full-length, this is an accomplished compilation of songs, each one feeding into the next even as they drift from the brief atmospheric “Prólogos” (translation: prologue) into lengthier explorations of doom and gloom. I, The Weapon have a knack for knowing how to structure a piece, never rushing to get to the “meat” of the songs but never taking overlong detours either. The longest instalment here is the ten-minute ‘Sybil’, a tense post-metal epic that reveals itself cautiously and is all the better for it. Its heavier moments do not arrive suddenly in an attempt to stun the listener, rather they crawl out of the gutter to bolster the enveloping atmosphere the band have worked hard to assemble.
It’s clear that the focus here is not on confronting the listener so much as it is luring them patiently into the darkness. By the end, you’ll happily follow them there.
The Ivy is out now and can be purchased here.
Words: George Parr