REVIEWED: Opium Lord - 'Vore'
Pigeonholing is a messy business, mostly because you end up being covered in useless feathered metaphors, and shit. And also, if you can neatly categorise music, it's probably boring as fuck anyway. And it's definitely not something you can do to Opium Lord; from the first sweet hit of 'The Calendrical Cycle - Prologue: The Healer' back in 2013 and agonising tortured tales of urban angst that was painfully birthed from a sludge template and then became a terrifying psychedelic nightmare on debut LP 'Eye of Earth' back in 2015. Now after four years too long, we have 'Vore' and it has been well worth the wait for the weightiest of the West Midlands. It's far easier to state Opium Lord's oeuvre slots them into the sludge and doom camp, but it's a lot harder to say why. Not for them the Orange amps and fuzzed out 70s tubes. This is a far more sharper and calculated than that.
Opener 'WWCD' isn't so much an overture as an underture, burrowing under your skin with desolate reverberation atop a crawling picked arpeggio that sounds like Slint in a deep psychosis and then collapses into a vortex of feedback and noise. Then 'Lead Magnet' bursts out in ever heavier permutations of the same pounding rhythmic patterns but never letting us settle and find our feet, like trying to dance to Neurosis at a benefit gig in a hell that's frozen over. 'Centurion' then dissolves all that ice with a boiling fiery fury, and then we're wrong-footed again by 'Suture', and you'll certainly need a few after this one; it's like getting a massage off a Cenobite. Or at least a Cenobite's idea of one. 'Vore' delights in piling up extremes of despair against each other, juxtoposing the isolating space of echoes and reverberations as much as the arid shrieks and boiling lava tones that characterise 'Columbia'. Like life, 'Vore' is all too brief, with 'Gift' lashing like an apocalyptic rain of fire.
If you're jaded by the Sabbath slump in the doom world, then don't worry, so are Opium Lord. 'Vore' is a cold and lacerating journey though the bleakness, imperious in its majesty and unflinching in pulling myriad elements of heavy music into contrarian super-dense emptiness that bores into your very soul. 9/10
'Vore' is out now on Sludgelord Records