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On 2013’s ‘Opium Morals’, Southern Californian bruisers Seven Sisters Of Sleep succeeded in achieving their overall mission objective: “combining the best elements of crust, doom, sludge and death metal,” and delivering it with “perfect song lengths for doom fans with short attention spans.” Now, that record was a veritable juggernaut, and demonstrated the monstrous talent of the group for weaving the sonic elements of multiple genres into a thick and caustic tapestry of sheer heaviness. And so you might ask yourself, ‘Well, if that record was so great, what could they possibly look to change with a new one?’ And the answer is of course nothing: not a single, fucking, god-damn thing.
Returning to the fold with ‘Ezekiel’s Hags’, their début record for Relapse Records and their third LP overall, Seven Sisters Of Sleep keep it heavy and straight forward, with an absolute tonne of crushing riffs, rumbling bass tones and vocals that emanate from the very depths of hell right into your speakers. Recorded with engineer Paul Miner (Motorhead, Terror, Phobia), every instrument on display here is cranked to 11 and crisp enough for definition, without sacrificing the grime and grit that makes traditional sludge or doom so appealing.
The one-two cross attack of ‘Jones’ and ‘Denounce’ kicks off the record, weighing in at close to nine-minutes of full-frontal drum assaults, tempo changes and crushing, lumbering riffs. Lead single ‘Gutter’ drops in, with a backbone of punchy kick drums, thrashy guitars and features vocalist Tim McAlary shrieking wildly about an aimless, wandering drifter – all before a colossal beatdown section annihilates everything in its path, sounding like the best song Xibalba never wrote. Tracks like ‘Brother’s River’ and ‘Third Season’ keep the pulse up, with furious rhythm sections and plenty of crust/grind worship, while ‘Plateau’ sports some nice train-bell drumming, over soaring guitars worthy of a spot on a Dopethrone record, before collapsing into a thick quicksand of droned out riffs. Closing out with the towering epic ‘Bastard Son’, the band plays a 10-minute dirge to the accompaniment of McAlary’s savage vocal range, basking in the depth and breadth of their expertise in one mammoth bonus track.
In an interview some years ago, members of the band described their take on extreme heavy music as ‘minimalist’, and to this reviewer that description fits ‘Ezekiel’s Hags’ a lot better than you would expect. Sure, what Seven Sisters Of Sleep do is essentially the ‘kitchen sink’, melting pot version of every lauded heavy genre, but they do it with enough reservation and restraint, that the musical arrangements are never boring or tired, instead becoming dynamic purely of their own volition. Make no mistake, ‘Ezekiel’s Hags’ is fucking heavy, takes no prisoners and will utterly destroy you whilst decimating your ears. But who said inevitable death couldn’t be purposeful and powerful?
5. Brother’s River
7. Third Season
8. Sacred Prostitute
10. War Master
11. Bastard Son (Bonus Track)