Sunday, 6 March 2016

Agoraphobic Nosebleed - Arc

(January 22nd, 2016, Relapse Records)

Lately, the mastermind behind Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Pig Destroyer got interested in sludge metal. Well, at least it seems like it. Last EP by Pig Destroyer (which, by the way, I didn't like very much) was advertised as a sludge metal album and now Hull is doing the same thing with his first band. Is it better? Well, kind of... It's better than Pig Destroyer, that's for sure. And even if I still think that the "sludge thing" should be recorded as a completely different project, unrelated to this grindcore classic, I must admit - it's a solid album.
   I don't think I must introduce you to Agoraphobic Nosebleed, one of the most known grindcore bands, a classic of the genre, blah, blah, blah... Even if you're not a fan of grindcore I'm sure you heard of them. Arc is a totally different album than their earlier stuff. If you want grindcore - sorry, wrong address buddy. There's nothing grindcore or even grindcore-ish about this album. It's slow, dismal and misanthropic. More like Eyehategod on steroids than anything by Agoraphobic Nosebleed.
   Musicianship is on a high level (which is expected from such a band), the production is really good, and pretty much everything seems well done. As I said, it's better than the Pig Destroyer EP. Looks like Hull really improved his "sludge sound". I haven't noticed anything wrong with these three tracks... There are even some excellent moments, like the second half of "Deathbed". The biggest problem about this album is... Agoraphobic Nosebleed.
   Every time when I listened to Arc I had that feeling. And it was stronger with each new listen. "It's good and everything, but grindcore Agoraphobic was far better"... And if you know their earlier stuff, you must admit, a great grindcore album is better than a solid sludge album. Especially if these were made by the same band. This even leads to a question - isn't this a waste of potential?
   Another problem with the new album is that it's kind of forgettable. I mean, yeah, it's heavy, it sounds good, but after a few listens I didn't feel like it's something I'm going to go back to very often. As I said, it's solid - nothing less and nothing more. It's not an album that will end up in my 2016 top list. Sludge metal has gained some popularity in recent years and I'm sure some fans of the genre will find what they seek in Arc. It's good work, but nothing groundbreaking. It is a stranger in the genre and a little oddity for an average sludge fan.

- Tomek

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