Muscle Shoals, Alabama is a town with a rich musical history—FAME Studios, The Swampers, Lyrnyrd Skynyrd… but nautical post-sludge metal is probably the last thing that comes to mind. Until now. This local outfit is basically Alabama’s answer to Isis—and they’ve made Depths, their debut album, available for free download on Bandcamp. (Good luck finding Skynyrd’s early demos for that price!)
The five-track, 36-minute effort kicks off with “Carcharodon,” a seven-minute, mostly mid-paced slog on the more mellow side of Neurosis. There are a few heavy breakdowns interspersed throughout, but things get really interesting past the five-minute mark when they adopt a mid-paced gallop that falls somewhere between Judas Priest and Hawkwind. After that audio assault, “Spermaceti” is a much mellower, four-minute interlude that even has a nice string section before the first heavy riff kicks in with about a minute to go.
The meat of the album comes with a pair of 10-minute epics. “Architeuthis” will certainly elicit a few Isis comparisons, namely from their Oceanic period. We’re not even 90 seconds in before the first heavy riff comes crashing in like the Titanic into an iceberg, but there are plenty of mellow moments in between heavy doses to provide a nice change of pace. “The Wretched Sea” is a bit slower, a little more emotive and expressive in its chilling, unsettling seafaring vibes, although it does take on a more menacing urgency past the halfway point, even descending into a semi-blackened gurgle around the eight-minute mark. Once again, fans of Isis or Neurosis ought to be interested in this.