In terms of music that sounds absolutely hateful, sludge metal is the scene you can always count on to keep pushing the envelope. Whether it be the gutter-blues of Eyehategod, the unnerving acoustics of Khanate, or the outright aural terror of The Body, sludge metal is one of the top choices when it comes to putting on music at the end of a party you’re hosting when it’s three in the morning and you just want everyone to get the fuck out of your house. And when their music is judged on that scale, Indian excels. What they lack in subtlety they make up for with maximum volume, punishing riffs, and unstoppable hatred. If Khanate is akin to playing Silent Hill and glimpsing the first misshapen enemy writhing in a knee-deep pool of filth with a dying fluorescent lamp flickering above as the only source of light, then Indian is more like getting skullfucked by Pyramid Head.
When the first track of an album is called “Rape,” you know you’re in for something, uh, special. And if there’s one thing that Indian knows how to do well, it’s bludgeoning the listener into total submission. Fans of doom and sludge that you shouldn’t put on late at night in a dark room by yourself are going to be very pleased by this release, as will the acolytes of Swans’ earlier material. This is brutal and uncompromising music, and the fact that it’s so difficult to listen to is certainly intentional. But at the same time, Indian could have made an effort to make their “Rape” a bit more…gentle? That sounds really terrible when taken out of context, but the fact of the matter is that there’s only the briefest glimpse of something melodic on “The Impetus Bleeds” and the closing track “Disambiguation.” It’s only on “Clarify” that Indian actually descend into completely indistinguishable noise – there are actual songs here – but most of the album’s running time is dominated by the instrumentation slamming out the same chord over and over and over again. It’s just plain difficult to listen to, which was certainly intentional, but it still won’t win you over if you’re not a fan of this style of music already.
If you are a fan, though, there is a lot more nuance to be explored here than you might immediately suspect. When the guitars aren’t replicating the percussion ala Godflesh, they pull off some rapid-fire tremolo picking reminiscent of black metal, which does wonders for enhancing this album’s absolutely hateful atmosphere. The vocalist’s roars are downright caustic, and could probably strip the paint off the side of my house. And while the drums don’t do much in the way of fills, they know their place and keep a nice, lumbering, body-bag-dragging rhythm that holds the album together. With this being their fourth full-length LP, Indian certainly knows what they do best, and From All Purity is a mighty display of such.
But the fact remains that this album will be very alienating to those uninitiated with this kind of music, and “alienating” is certainly putting it diplomatically. Those in the mood for some mammoth claustrophobic sludge will find a real treat here, but the casual listener will undoubtedly be scared off. But no matter who you are or what you listen to, Indian has proved one thing for sure on From All Clarity. They are out there. They can’t be bargained with. They can’t be reasoned with. They don’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And they absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.