There are any number of adjectives and descriptors I could toss out to describe 30 Year Suicide, the new two-song single from Southern sludge and doom purveyors Crawl. But in this particular instance I’m going to zero in two of the qualities I believe make the record a standout effort — that is, how focused and unyielding these songs are.
Listening to both “Pornography of Grief” and “30 Year Suicide,” I can’t help but notice a deliberateness to the trio’s punishing approach that only serves to accentuate the record’s aura of menace. It’s heavy, sure, and driven by a kind of brutish plodding, but that’s true of most doom bands. What sticks out is the group’s crazed-eyed intensity, their unrelenting commitment to the rise and fall of a few monolithic chords. Here, sludge rock’s most prized asset — the almighty riff — is forced to yield as the band pays homage to the more subtle art of building tension and atmosphere.
Still, it’s not all just a matter of constructing pressure and anxiety. Tommy Butler’s drumming is far too dynamic and nimble to be sequestered into a forced march, and while bassist Patrick Lowe and guitarist Eric Crowe aren’t prone to many deviations, their occasional departures, such as Crowe’s ominous lead and garbled screams in “Pornography of Grief,” provide just enough color and texture to keep the songs from settling into brain-bashing repetition. And besides, it’s not like 30 Year Suicide exists is some sort of riff free vacuum. All this apprehension, this unwavering aura of impending cataclysm, is certainly leading somewhere, and when Crawl finally relent and erupt into a bruising mid-tempo stomp halfway through the title track, it feels like the walls are going to cave in.