Sludge and especially doom metal has never been strangers to despair and pain, nor hate come to that, but there can be few releases which consume and fester in the psyche with the sheer hostile weight and excruciating intensity as that found within Gross Knowledge of Genital Mutilation. The new EP from US metallers Servants of the Mist, it is a leviathan of ruinous abrasion and sonic pestilence which bears no mercy or respite in its bitter oppressiveness. The four-track proposition is without doubt not a welcoming listen or one attempting to lure in a wide spread of appetites but if sludge of the most demoralising and perverse order is your kind of bait than Gross Knowledge of Genital Mutilation is a definite exploration to brave.
Bred in Florida, Servants of the Mist emerged in 2010 through guitarist and main songwriter Ed Tobar. A clutch of personnel ensued before long-term vocalist Richard Smyth, Jr. joined the band. Musically the project was immersed in the more traditional doom sounds of Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus though also bringing different ripe flavours into the mix. Early demos helped spread awareness of band and sound whilst the sharing of stages with the likes of Jucifer, Ulcer, After Death, and the Tardy Brothers only reinforced the emergence of the band. More line-up changes occurred over the couple of years from forming before late 2012 going into the next year saw Tobar and Smyth JR. enlisting drummer RJ Howley, bassist Kenny Nguyen, and Jason Kleim on keyboards into Servants of the Mist. The band’s sound was also evolving, a thicker droning seducing its invention which subsequently led to a shift within the band of Nguyen to second guitar and Kleim to bass to exploit and further this turn. The results impressively emerged in the well-received and monstrously evil sounding Suicide Sex Pact EP, the base and seed to the just as hostile tsunami that is Gross Knowledge of Genital Mutilation. The new release also features the latest addition to the sextet, keyboardist Brian Schille, and the band’s heaviest, most vitriolic presence yet.
The torment opens with Sadism & Suffering, a brief introduction of portentous intrigue and atmospheric haunting cast through samples and sonic persistence. Though arguably not openly leading into or hinting at the beast of sound to come, the piece has thoughts and emotions entwined with its dangerous and challenging presence before the following Undeserving steps up to demand and seize all attention. A wall of penetrating sonic animosity fills ears and senses first, guitars and keys venomously seducing and permeating the psyche whilst the bass offers its own lethal lure. The mere seconds feel like a month of sufferance before the lumbering rhythmic gait of the track shakes the earth and riffs slam upon the senses like a monolithic predator. The gateway to the darkest, deepest malevolent pit spreads its legs to expel a consuming flow of organic and ruinous intensity into the slowly twisting maelstrom whilst the jowls of its bestial intent, devours the imagination with scourge like rapaciousness. It is a heady and exhaustive proposition but one which ebbs and flows in its attack for ears and emotions to embrace the sonically blistered melodic veining which emerges between the raw vocal causticity and insidious emotions.
Just too long at almost twelve minutes for personal thresholds, the track is a compelling savagery which is emulated in a distinctly different guise by Commit Suicide. Bursting from another potent sample, the track is a bruising, uncompromising slab of punk infused sludge rioting. It has a definite familiarity to its groove and contagion, an indefinable one admittedly but a presence within its brutal enticement which at times suggests Nirvana, Killing Joke, and Eyehategod. It is a gripping stomp with murderous intent which grips the passions tightly before passing on for the title track to submerge senses and psyche in its disturbing provocation. The last song emerges from another disturbed ambience as bred in the opener before sluggishly unwinding tendrils of sonic toxicity and suffocating aural despondence. It is a masterful funereal death march, an intensive devouring devoid of hope and light but exuding a rabid beauty which can only seduce the souls of the wretched and the emotionally distorted.
Gross Knowledge of Genital Mutilation is at times a trial and in other moments a fearsome seduction, but perpetually a unique scavenger of emotions and fears which reinforces Servants of the Mist as one of the rarest and inescapable predations within extreme metal. Only the fearless and deranged will tackle the EP but their rewards come in just as weighty an offering as the violation.
The self-released Gross Knowledge of Genital Mutilation is available now @ http://servantsofthemist.bandcamp.com
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