What is the common ground between traditional groovy thrash and the rolling, chaotic thunder of violent sludge? For many it’s Pantera – and a whole lot of bands sure do sound like them. But, bubbling up from the swamp, there’s a whole new generation of bands who are taking a new approach to these influences, writing against the grain to produce something cutting and vital.
Voltane’s sound on their debut EP is one such example, if still in the rudimentary stages. Their approach is less frantic and more weighty, using the groove as a steady sledgehammer, a base over which the vocals can dance and shimmer. The pulse of the rhythm section allows a sprightly interplay between the melodic elements, a lot busier than some of their more straightforward peers.
The vocals are a particular standout, pitched somewhere between the sludge howl perfected by Gurt & Iron Monkey with a hint of black metal chaos. Onto this, they add a harsher element and a percussive hammer effect. Otherwise, the guitars are a commanding presence, forming the bulwark of the grooves, which, tight though they are, often feel like they could break down at a moment’s notice, adding a little chaos to the mix.
The EP is quirky and timely, very much in line with what modern UK sludge is doing. It suffers slightly from the common debut EP trap of having too many ideas to be concise, but this is hardly a hanging offence; it’s better to be unfocussed than too conservative. Many years back we’d have fields wildly overgrowing with knockoff thrash bands, so it’s very pleasant to see something like this, where those youthful, speed-oriented ideas are tempered with elements from the murkier, less straightforward tradition of sludge. There’s a clear wisdom in this approach, though Voltane’s sound is still developing; in the meantime, this is a scrappy, well-conceived EP and a good indication of things to come.
Killing Fields is out now and can be purchased here.
Words: Tom Coles