Raw, abrasive, and sonically uncompromising, Parerga the new album from UK sludge punks Ragweed is one of those treats you did not know you had a lustful appetite for but soon breed an insatiable hunger towards upon introduction. A caustic maelstrom of punk, sludge metal, noise, and psyche rock, band and release is a delicious violation of the senses with hooks and grooves as irresistibly appetising as the webs of corrosive noise wrapping their lures. Imagine a mutated union of XII Boar and Fugazi with Swell Maps and The St Pierre Snake Invasion, all stirred with a healthy spoon of Melvins devilment and you have Ragweed.
Formed in 2012, the Brighton band has gone through a few line-ups before the duo of duo of vocalist/guitarist Tom Adamson and drummer Nick Spooner linked up with bassist Joe Dann at the end of last year (though Spooner has recently now left the band). Gaining a fine reputation and following for their live shows, the Ragweed had already released the well-received Double Chalker EP before the current threesome were united but it is easy to feel that Parerga will be the break through release, certainly to a more potent and wider recognition.
From the first gnarly strains of Dann’s bass which opens up first track Black & Scaly, ears and attention are gripped, with appetite swiftly following especially with the subsequent squall of guitar confrontation leading to bracing grooves. The track is soon prowling with a devilry and shadowed temperament, riffs infectious bait to which the swinging beats of Spooner impose greater suasion. Vocally Adamson switches between a discord kissed yet smooth delivery and raging expulsions to match the crawling weight and addictive posture of the track. It is an outstanding start which flirts through the inventive craft of the band but is primarily a predator of the senses and imagination.
The following Dermol Dispenser whips out contagious grooves from the start, teasing and exciting ears with their catchy enterprise and carnal intrusion before entwining them with slower lumbering twists. Elements of Fra Pouch and Therapy? offer hints across the also feverishly compelling song, whilst the underlying twang which erupts to stronger clarity at times is surely Pantera inspired. The track keeps the album a seriously impressive confrontation which is backed just as mightily by Nip The Bud. Offering a funk seeded groove from the off within a less concussive web of noise than previous songs and scything guitar strikes, the track twists and entices with a garage punk ingenuity stalked by another superbly enslaving bass sound and adventure. It is a brilliant proposition, Television Personalities, The Fall, and even a whiff of Red Hot Chili Peppers whispers in the tempestuous warped majesty of the song.
Strange Colour rumbles in with a heavy weight gait and intent next, bass and beats a primal incitement to which the guitar of Adamson saws and snarls away irrepressibly. The monotone lilted vocals add to the inescapable temptation whilst the guitarist’s coarser roars enhance the ever present punk voracity which soaks the song and whole album. The track alone proves that Ragweed is a band able to provide a rich and captivating meal for fans of punks, metal, doom, and stoner infused sludge rock with ease.
Both the unpolished propositions of Divorce Reality and Gun Fever keep ears and appetite hungry if without quite matching their predecessors. The first is a more metal driven stroll but with a sultry groove which simply smoulders threat and seduction. Vocally the song lacks the bite and invention of earlier ones yet with invention to the causticity of the guitar and imagination to the rhythmic gallop and bordering on sadistic savagery of certain twists, it is a magnetic encounter which gets better and better with time. Its successor is a bruising and brawling slab of punk antagonism which again lacks the spark of others but still breeds a need for more with its merciless and relentless sonic rabidity.
The release closes with George Moshington, another intensive tangle of ravenous grooves, biting rhythms, and virulent sonic temptation. Bass and guitar spin a net of ridiculously addictive endeavour which the swings of Spooner punctuate with just as riveting venom and ferocity. The track is an incendiary and tremendous conclusion to an outstanding album which will and deservedly should, push Ragweed to a new eager and extensive spotlight.
The self-released Parerga is available from Monday 18th August
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