Sludge metal, as an art form, certainly doesn’t ooze happiness. It often comes from dark places, depicting harsh realities. Rather than indulging in stoner/doom escapism (“Ride the dragon toward the crimson eye…”), it confronts you with unpleasant scenarios – and often, through this confrontation, catharsis can be found.
It is only fitting, then, that No Good to Anyone, the latest album from Today is the Day, was sprung from a very dark place. Afflicted with Lime Disease and recovering from a serious car accident, TDITD main man Steve Austin was struggling his own mortality while crafting this album. Though it defies easy categorization (“post-sludge” might be the best we can do), this 14-track, nearly 50-minute effort draws deeply from the sludge-metal well of suffering and despair. Take as needed for pain…
The title track kicks things off with seven and a half minutes of downtuned despondency, opening with a sinister riff from the Crowbar catalogue and a gritty spoken-word vocal, before throwing in some black-metal blastbeats and harsh screams around the two-minute mark. The harsh vocals remain in place as the tempo shifts back toward the slow and sludgy, with a couple more blackened interludes serving as unsettling tempo shifts.
“Attacked by an Angel” is a dreary, gothic dirge that clocks in at just over two minutes, ahead of the slow-mo, Saint Vitus depravity of “Son of Man,” which shifts from the vocal stylings of a laid-back surfer drawl a la Scott Hill to the edgier, yet intelligible attack of more recent Mike IX, eventually adding a haunting organ and pulsating percussion for an extra-eerie effect.
“Burn in Hell” features a crunchy, stop-start riff that reminds me of COC’s “Diablo Blvd” – before going full-on Napalm Death for its final 60 seconds. “You’re All Gonna Die” pairs a similar southern groove with the neck-snapping stomp of Prong, while “Cocobolo” channels Black Sabbath’s “Hole in the Sky” in its drug-addled despair.
Although it may seem out of place sonically, the bleak Americana-styled “Callie” fits the sombre tone of this tome to a T. “OJ Kush” and “Mercy” might be the closest this record comes to 90’s style noise rock – but at this point, it’s clear the AmRep veterans have outgrown that label, as well.