You can throw all the malevolent black metal, ruthless grindcore and guttural death metal you like at someone, nothing hits quite as brutally as sludge. Whilst the faster-paced wings of heavy music relish in all-out assaults, like going into the ring with a heavyweight champ, sludge is more akin to wading through a swamp whilst some unseen force keeps pushing your head under the surface. The genre’s proclivity for pure nihilism is second-to-none, and it is this facet of sludge that is explored so masterfully by Resent on the Canadian group’s debut full-length Crosshairs.
Ever since the likes of Grief and Noothgrush showed the world just how gloriously bleak the genre could be, sludge acts the world over have been trying to match or outdo them. Primitive Man made everything more stifling through longer runtimes and doses of noise and drone, the likes of Body Void have experimented with bouts of faster riffs, whilst Meth Drinker and Burning Witch have sought to drag the sound of sludge even deeper into the gutter.
Stacked up against these bands, Resent’s music initially seems unambitious, content with paying homage to that which has come before. But there’s nothing wrong with playing a style you love to an established crowd similarly fond of enduring wave after wave of titanic distortion and thunderous riffs. Resent know the tricks of the genre, and they use them more effectively than most. Distressing samples (title-track ‘Crosshairs’ outdoes itself in this department), damaged riffs and rhythms that seem to stutter every time they almost hit a groove are the name of the game here, and the unrelenting tone, bolstered by the grimy production, is executed to perfection.
May Day is an event in the calendar normally reserved for singing, dancing and celebrating the arrival of the warmer months, but this May 1st Crosshairs seems intent on spoiling the party. If you’re not already feeling down, this record can certainly take you there, but sometimes that’s what we need from our music. If we assume that the darker the music the greater the catharsis, then we should be revering Resent as the scene’s new collective therapists.
Crosshairs is out now on Dry Cough, Nerve Altar and Rope Or Guillotine.
Words: George Parr