For a band that apparently named themselves after a video game cheat code (the video game in question would be Starcraft, to be exact) you’d think the guys in BLACK SHEEP WALL might specialize in a more technical, precise, and yeah, I’ll say it…downright nerdy, brand of metal. Djent, that polarizing metal flavor du jour, might come to mind, with all of its virtuosic, muted bleep-bloop guitar runs, insane time signatures, and complicated song structures. Maybe throw in some clean vocals for good measure. You know, that kinda thing.
You’d also be dead wrong. Plodding album opener “Agnostic Demon” pretty much takes the above preconceived notions, envelops them in a deep, slow burn, and spits acid all over the remains. Slow and low is the name of the game here, and there’s more than enough bottom end to go around. Spin this slab of sludge loud enough, and you’re liable to induce an involuntary bowel movement out of any unfortunate soul within a three-block radius. Wield this long player with caution.
And when I say slow, I mean slow. The brand of sludge offered up on No Matter Where It Ends has more in common with doom of the funeral variety than it does with the groove-laden, shit-kickin’ strain churned out by the Louisiana sludge contingent that make up Eyehategod and Crowbar, among others. Heavy, glacial tracks like “Torrential” and “Ambient Ambitions” clock in on either side of the six-minute mark, and the primitive meat n’ potatoes riffage will certainly lull you into a hypnotic state if you’re not careful. Lucky for you, vocalist Trae Malone is here to snap you out of it; the man roars like he just stumbled upon a Breaking Bad spoiler while checking his Facebook feed. Standout track “Black Church” is a good example of what Black Sheep Wall does best, which is pummel you over the head with thick, repetitive walls of sound, while still changing things up just enough to keep you coming back for more. A track like “Cognitive Dissonance” offers a nice breather from the onslaught with some ambient noise, but there’s a not a whole lot here to justify its six-minute-plus run time.
If you don’t have the stomach for the type of viscous sludge this California band turns out, you might wave the white flag a quarter of the way through twelve-minute album closer “Flesh Tomb“. But if you have the patience to stick this one out, you’ll realize that No Matter Where It Ends is a welcome entry in a year full of heavy, slow-rolling releases.