When I see the term “sludge” used to describe a band, I usually assume there’s going to be a healthy dose of stoner-friendly blues riffs, mixed with doom metal. Bands like Eyehategod, Crowbar, and Acid Bath all had a lot of extreme metal influences, and even a healthy dose of hardcore, but there were always elements of heavy blues at the core of their sound. Florida’s Servants of the Mist have absolutely no blues in their sound, and yet sludge seems to be the most appropriate name for their brand of metal.
Gross Knowledge of Genital Mutilation, the latest EP by Servants of the Mist is one of the bleakest sounding records I’ve ever had the opportunity to listen to. The sound is murky and absolutely monolithic, almost like some massive creature rising out of the very depths of the swamps in Florida. The guitars give off a lot of heavy feedback, and the keyboards add a layer of grime to the tone which, for the most part, grinds along at snail’s pace (“Commit Suicide” being the exception, playing a bit more mid-tempo). A couple of bands that come to mind that have a similar vibe are Coffinworm and Lord Mantis, though they’re a bit more black metal-oriented at times. The sound clips utilized throughout are often as horrifying as the music, with images of violence, perversion, and psychosis being presented from interviews and documentaries. The title track, “Gross Knowledge of Genital Mutilation,” is really the center-piece of the EP, with some of the heaviest riffs on the record, and a perfect distillation of what Servants of the Mist are all about.
The production isn’t super clean but, really, that would take away from the impact of the music. You can still hear what each instrument is doing, and there’s plenty of rumbly low end, giving the riffs extra weight. The vocals are high in the mix, with a slight reverb that gives them an other-worldly feel. The keyboards feel like an extension of the guitars, with a similar tone to what Noah from Neurosis uses; the keys are more about atmosphere than melody here.
As I said before, the music Servants of the Mist present here is super dark, and truly some of the heaviest stuff I’ve heard in the sludge underground, or all of extreme metal, for that matter. If they continue to put out material of this quality, I think it’s safe to say that they are going to be a buzz-band pretty quickly in the extreme metal world. If you like your metal dark and slow, grab this EP as soon as possible.