I’ve been a big fan of B.C. sludge band Astrakhan ever since the release of their 2013 EP, The Pillarist. Their next EP was pretty good, too, combining the rugged grooves of locals like Bison and Mendozza with a bit of Baptists thrown in for good measure. Man, there is such an embarrassment of riches in the Vancouver sludge scene, it almost makes me wish I could afford to pay $2,500 a month for a bachelor apartment. Not sure I could handle the rain, though…
Anyhoo, their first full-length sees Astrakhan push the post-sludge pace from the outset with the 10-minute epic “Omajod.” There are shades of Neurosis right from the opening stop-start sequence, with a melancholic structure that oozes true doom. The mostly-clean vocals remind me of Pale Divine, while the winding riffs offer up some slow-motion headbanging opportunities. “Turgid Waters” achieves the desired effect, with stop-start breakdowns that pulsate like waves, occasionally pushing the tempo into High on Fire territory. After the constant crash ‘n chug of “The Traveler,” we get more thrash ‘n roll in the form of “Hatchet,” with some impressive soaring vocals overtop some of the slower parts.
“Microcosmic Design” actually includes some black-metal blast beats on its chorus, but they’re balanced out by passages with tribal drumming and eerie, oriental interludes. “Hand on the Stone” takes us home with some jagged, trippy, sludgy fare, just one of two tunes longer than six minutes.
Another solid effort here.