Sound: Demonic Death Judge are a new and ambitious band who describe themselves as 'blackened sludge metal' and hail from the deep, murky south/frostbitten north of.. Finland.
Anyway, this EP here - 'Kneel' - showcases a different form of sludge from that seen by traditional players from America. Combining the dirty recording style of NOLA bands, the Sabbath-esque catchy riffs and slow pacing, the melodic and atmospheric feeling of space rock and the raw sound/production, dissonance and vocal style of black metal, 'Kneel' is a unique offering to say the least.
Sludge/Doom in general has a rep for over-using the Sabbath influence in music, so what makes DDJ different? Well, its the riffs. Those fantastically epic riffs. Ancient by today's standards, these riffs fell mountains and invoke the happiest of crack binges through bouncy groove and simplistic rhythm. The bass is thick and heavy, keeping solid ground yet fairly occasionally going into Geezer Butler mode. The drumming is fairly simple for an extreme metal band but rhythmically compelling and the melodies are just wow: The ending melodies to 'Fire in the Eyes' and 'Spiral' just blows the mind. Definitely a good start to a career. // 8
Lyrics: Vocally, sludge metal has always had an affinity with black metal in this respect (If you listen to Eyehategod, they have the screamy thing down to a T). DDJ have a strong vocalist named Jaakko who adds some kind of distorted effect to give his vocals the more inhuman edge to them, but not only does he scream his lungs out but also has some Finnish (i.e., very very very good) mid-range clean vocals at hand during choruses, like on the title track, although they are heavily buried in the mix.
Lyrically, DDJ utilizes the black metal influence again, with most of the content dealing with destruction and isolationist/individualist ideals. Although nothing as thought provoking as say, The Ocean, DDJ keep the vocals drawn out to fit the slow tempo and grooving beat. // 7
Overall Impression: A unique release of sludge metal by any standards: Heavy, grooving, catchy and bongtastic, DDJ are a promising act to keep tabs on.
My complaints are few. Aside from the vocal mixing, there is only the predictable inevitability that the songs are maybe just a bit too drawn out. Long songs are fine and all, but sometimes the riffing is a bit too repetitive and the real juicy bits are placed at the middle and ends of the tracks which just adds to your need for the song to speed up.
Songs to look out for: 'Kneel', 'Spiral', 'Beneath the Monument', 'Carlyle', 'Feast'. // 8