One of the most criminally overlooked releases of 2016 was surely Bädr Vogu‘s skull-crushing second album Wroth. It is essentially our moral duty to put this album back on the radar where it belongs and give it the attention it deserves, because Wroth is simply a massive headfuck of an album that stands out above the endless mass of today’s underground doom bands like a towering and angry monolith. Recorded by Greg Wilkinson at the famed Earhammer Studios in Oakland, CA, Wroth is a beast that comes to life through a thick-as-concrete and ugly-as-fuck production, charging toward the listener with the anger and belligerence of an enraged rhino on a quest to rip human flesh to shreds.
You wouldn’t think that there are still bands out there capable of saying something new in the “sludge” genre and of carrying that famed torch with such commanding authority, and that’s where Bädr Vogu prove you wrong, and crush you with the indisputable FACTS of their life-taking riffs. From Sean Sokol’s iconic hated bark and antihuman social commentary, to the bluesy and swamp-chocked ten-ton Vitus/Sabbath/Flag-worshipping riffs of Bryce Shelton and Leo Buckley, to the pachydermic rhythm section of Justin Johnson and Chris Tanti, everything about this record is a classic as fuck lesson in form, and you can immediately tell that Bädr Vogu are in complete command when crafting iconic and highly evocative American sludge like the one pioneered in the 90s by bands like Noothgrush and Buzzov-en, and which few bands these days have mastered with such ease and confidence as they have.
The record kicks off with the bludgeoning and scathing sonic oppression of “Copernican Theory” – a bile-drenched anathema of misanthropic and spiteful disgust that encircles perfectly the most praised tradition od American crusted sludge metal (Grief and Noothgrush), injecting it with the vile and toxic abjection of bands like Eyehategod and Iron Monkey. The best song of the lot is probably the following: “Anathema of Time,” a monstrous onslaught of tumefying downtuned belligerence that lands on your face like a bag of bricks, sending you into a blood-drenched coma. This is where Bädr Vogu show their inhuman sonic antagonism by bringing in adjacent influences like old school death metal and rotting death-doom to materialize the very concept of total fucking sonic PUNISHMENT. As the track drags the listener with it into the pits of hell drawing to its harrowing conclusion, “Traitor” soon kicks in to establish total and complete doomed punk domination over a listener, who at this point is gasping for air and praying for dear life as Bädr Vogu unleash their iconic toxic hell upon them once again, consistently battering their flesh till the last fucking breath of air is beaten forcefully out of their body. If you think there are any fashionable stoner metal moments or any other cool post-metal fanciness in Bädr Vogu‘s tormented doom trudge, think fucking twice, because this is slow motion doom torture taken to an incredible extreme, and with no fucking pleasure whatsoever in store for the listener, only omonipotent torture. Bädr Vogu don’t fucking like you, they don’t fucking like people, and that becomes incredibly apparent from every slime-infested riff they grind out.
“Beasts of Burden” is yet another inevitable continuation of the utter plight the listener is forced into while dealing with Wroth. Showing once again the five-piece’s commanding mastery in re-evoking the 90’s most hated moments (Noothgrush, Dystopia, Toadliquor, Leechmilk etc), this is a long track – an unending eight minutes of flesh-ravaging slow-motion torture in which Bädr Vogu reach the pits of completely doomed oblivion, as seen for example in more extreme bands of the underground like Thou, Hell, or Primitive Man. “Deprogram” and “Narcotically Opaque” drag the torment further, stuffing the listeners ears with another seven minutes of meat-devouring riffs each, until Wroth reaches the edge of sanity with “Deadweight,” over eleven minutes of crippling crusted doom that stand as a towering slime-made swamp megalith amongst a wasteland of charred ruins and mangled corpses. The final “Of Misanthropy and Malaise” is glorious conclusion to an epic journey within the critical mass of actual hell: a soaring psychedelic dirge packed with mesmerizing solos and eye-opening samples that is the perfect epilogue for a towering work that is permeated with extremely meaningful social commentary, gut-wrenching atmospheres, commanding musicianship, and skull-crushing riffs. Wroth is out now on as vinyl and digital products through Tribunal of the Axe records.