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Various Artists : Dreams... ...Of What Life Could Have Been - The Ultimate Sludge Compilation

I think of Hungary's psycheDOOMelic as a kind of elite label devoted to the very best in contemporary old-school, 'Sabbathy doom, run by someone whose love for the genre is unquestioned. After all, nobody's making millions off of this, right? Well, the label has strayed from its usual fare, producing a compilation of extreme nihilistic sludge and black doom that will shred your nerves and leave you a pitiful, drooling mess.

Ordinarily my taste tends towards the Hellhound label/Maryland old school for which this label is justifiably well known. Frankly, a lot of the more extreme sludge leaves me unimpressed, if not irritated. I mean, call me a wuss or whatever, but I get enough of those screaming vocals pretty quickly, and at the end of the day a lot of the songs start sounding the same. So imagine my surprise when, after several listens, the bands on this comp started growing on me like bad on evil. Yes, this is heavy sludge at its bleakest, dark doom without compromise. Yet every single one of these bands has something strong to recommend them, and they sound as different from each other as any bands artificially lumped together are likely to, shredding vocals notwithstanding. But don't expect muscle cars and beer, 'cause they don't play that.

Soulpreacher starts things off with the surprisingly melodic, spacey 'Remember the end' that slowly builds into a crushing sludge/doom monster, with a mixture of clean and shredding vocals singing of depression and mental illness. Fistula's guitar tone and song arrangements seem more stoner than sludge at times, though the treated, screaming vocals will chill your right down. Grief's brutal sludge/ doom is full of energy, and is it just me or do they have a scary good drummer? Thee Plague of Gentlemen is the only band on here with members I know personally, and it's hard to believe that such nice (not to mention wickedly funny) guys could produce this neck-breaking, tempo-changing doom, but I've seen them do it live and its all for real. Whew! New York music veterans Negative Reaction come through with their bludgeoning, super-downtuned space doom; UK newcomers Ramesses bring it with their noisy, infectious, sludgy riffs (coming along nicely, gentlemen!) and Moss strips the hopeless sludge back to its sledgehammer, distorted basics, just to make sure we're left with the proper feeling of despair.

As their discography demonstrates, psycheDOOMelic is a label with the highest standards. So really, I'm not surprised that they could take a series of groups about which I generally know little and make a worthwhile compilation out of 'em. As with all comps, the value is in hearing new groups among the bands you've heard before. A comp's Achilles heel is the lack of continuity, but in this case I'm happy enough to be hearing the new stuff that it's really not an issue. So salute the spirits of Winter, Autopsy and Hellhammer by picking up 'Dreams...' There's something new, crushing, and depressing for everyone on this. And with a running time of 79 minutes, this disc is a stone bargain in quantity, if nothing else.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. 'Remember the end'
2. 'Whore'
3. 'Crocodile Princess'
4. 'Drug Smuggler'
5. 'Ostrich'
6. 'Bored'
Thee Plague of Gentlemen:
7. 'Your love is king (of the dead) Part 2 & 3'
Negative Reaction:
8. 'Nod'
9. 'Black Domina'
10. 'Beyond Despair'

Duration : Approx. 79 minutes

Visit the Various Artists bandpage.

Reviewed on ??-??-???? by Kevin McHugh
Forever Autumn
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