I’m gonna go out on a flimsy limb and guess that the seal this band threatens to club (jokingly, they revealed in a recent interview), is the semi-aquatic marine mammal and not the singer of “Kiss from a Rose.” Both acts are illegal, but the imagery here is important. Sealclubber are from Black Country, UK, which to an ignorant American like me sounds exactly like what I picture Cormac McCarthy novel landscapes look like: Brutal deserts, harsh temperatures, and unforgiving rain droughts. After some investigation it’s totally the opposite of some barren cowboy wasteland and is one of the first heavily industrialized areas of Britain.
The idea of the ground covered in black soot and the air thick with gaseous pollution totally makes sense when you hear this band’s music, though. On their two-song debut EP, Sticky River, Sealclubber dips crust punk in hot tar and drags sludge through toxic, black water populated with fanged, mutated fish. There is nothing manufactured about this music and it doesn’t fit perfectly in any mold, but it’s deformed, disgruntled, and ready to throw you into the gears of whatever machine will pulverise your bones the quickest.
“Losing a Fighting Battle” opens the show with harmonized guitars before diving through a landfill wall of garbage and discarded rotting pets and blasting into a greasy crust punk riff. The guitar parts groove with inspired flourishes that invoke dusty rock’n’roll and swampy sludge that would fit in the Savannah, GA scene. The heaviest moments remind me of The Abominable Iron Sloth if they grew up listening to Cro-Mags, but with less predictable structure. Simon Blewitt’s vocals are husky, harsh, and could give a colony of seals cardiac arrest, making them easier to subsequently club.
“Pissing in an Open Wound,” besides being at least mildly uncomfortable for the recipient of the urine, is also a noisy little patchwork of twisting post-metal, nasty knuckle-bruising punk rock, and the same black-water sludge appearing in the first track. Blewitt’s vocals drop an octave as his growl guides the song into darker territory and the band’s second Simon (Ingram) provides stand-out drumming as the song writhes riff to riff. In the most discordant sections of the song it sounds like the guitars are being played like a cello with a bonesaw, and that someone could step into one of these songs and drown in the muck.
This is a great teaser from a new band that likely doesn’t hate seals with enough zeal to club them, but will settle for clubbing eardrums instead. If you follow this blog you’re familiar with my label-crush on Witch Hunter Records, and this is another example why. Each band on their roster flashes originality, ugliness, and intensity, and none of them feel like clones created to fill a need. Sealclubber don’t care if you’re offended, and luckily I’m only offended by uninspired music. This nasty slab of scuzzy sludge is so good even the most hardcore seals would wear their logo as a backpatch.
Sticky River releases on August 2nd, but go listen to it now over at Bandcamp: http://sealclubber.bandcamp.com/music
And follow them on Facebook for news on merch and gigs: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sealclubber/473306152706632