I don’t always review albums song by song, but when I do, it’s usually a Witch Hunter Records release. The newest album from the DIY label based in the UK is a truly collaborative effort from two filthy sludge bands with varying approaches to the subgenre. On this split EP, both bands include, in order, one new original song, a cover of their choosing, and a cover of a song by the other band sharing the split. I absolutely love this approach, as it invites some playful competition and camaraderie as well. Here are my thoughts on each song:
1) Sophisticate - Gurt start the hunting party with a throbbing rhythm and a thick, mucky sound that invokes Slabdragger and the bluesy flourishes and brawny chugging of late-career Pantera. Take old Chicago electric blues, channel it through an Orange amp, then dip it in hot tar and vulture feathers. The vocals from Growth/Gareth Kelly sound like the crusty howls of a swampland degenerate from a Cormac McCarthy novel.
2) Psycho Killer - Yep, a Talking Heads cover. There’s the initial, beard-growing bass tone from Spice/David Blakemore, then the novelty of hearing David Byrne’s voice replaced by the caustic roar of a gutter demon. Parts of the song feel a bit rigid (the fa-fa-fas don’t work quite as well as the ay-ay-ays, for those familiar with the moments of non-lyrical vocals), but the last minute of sprawling, trippy rock is totally inspired, and Gurt own this song and make it their own monster.
3) Gift of the Sun - Covering the title track of the last Limb EP, Gurt extend the psychedelic rock with shades of Church of Misery’s quietest moments, and then rips a hole in the earth’s crust with a riff that could summon Cthulhu for its turn at the hookah. This song is seriously, supernaturally heavy.
1) Plaguedoctor - Groovy sludge that’s closer to stoner metal with its hallucinogenic bounce, like Electric Wizard without the occult, just a perpetually loaded bong and a bathtub full of homemade swill. Great song, catchy as hell is hot. Rob Hoey’s vocals remind me of LG Petrov from Entombed, if his throat was shredded from acid tab paper cuts.
2) Son and Daughter - Covering a supremely heavy Queen song from their debut album, Limb explore gender roles with a strong, Sabbath stomp. I was expecting some harmonica to join the fray, as this song feels like it’s dressed up in a denim jacket with fringe. They cut the hacky synth effects that plague the original and trim it down to basics, resulting in awesome throwback heavy rock with raw-doggin’ attitude.
3) Soapfeast - Choosing a Gurt song from another split, the shared EP with Dopefight, Limb soak in the joys of profanity and all its unexpected combinations, as the vocals are the most diseased on the EP as they chant the mantra “you really don’t give a cunting fuck.” The song itself has a surprisingly low-key, smoke-a-spliff-in-the-van’s-back-seat energy, apart from one dangerously bombastic release of fury.
In summary, I had a blast with this entire release. Sludge is often considered one of the more misanthropic genres, riddled with tales of addiction and hatred and self-loathing. But on Split Roast, Gurt and Limb both scoop their sloppy, delicious gruel onto the listener’s plate and growl with a grin, “Eat up, you cunting fuck.” And that’s music to my ears.
Listen to Gurt and Limb over here, where Witch Hunter Records always makes the albums available as a “Name your price” download. Then buy the CD, which is made with a completely DIY mentality, and features artwork from the bands: http://witchhunterrecords.bandcamp.com/album/split-roast
Add Gurt here on Facebook, and follow their swampy reign: https://www.facebook.com/GURTsludge
And do the same for Limb, while convincing them to record the Queen epic “The Prophet’s Song” in the future: https://www.facebook.com/LimbTheBand