11 Oct 2019 - Thorsten
Blackened-Noise | Sludgelord Records | Release date: 11 Oct 2019
Well, well, well – if it ain’t the birthplace of it all, Birmingham?
Nobody needs a reminder why the Midlands are the place where the magic started 50 years ago. Nobody needs to hear about Ozzy and Tommi and the others. But wait – what came out of Birmingham since then? Okay, Napalm Death, but what else? Goldie. Okay, okay, Napalm Death and Goldie, but what else? Godflesh! Okay, okay, okay, Napalm Death and Goldie and Godflesh and … I guess most of you know which movie is being referenced here indirectly. Just as Reg has to admit that the Romans have done numerous things for Galilee, the connoisseur of music history must admit that rusty, rotten Birmingham has done loads of things for music with Opium Lord being one of the latest examples.
It is interesting how Opium Lord can oscillate between Godflesh, Jesus Lizard and Mayhem, although the later is more obvious in the vocal style only as they are clearly black metal – based. The musical foundation is definitely AmRep-influenced noise rock (with a crisp bass sound), although it has clearly been stuffed down the sludge version of a meat mincer only to come out on the other end in the style of a musical coldness to match the sterile cleanliness of Broadrick’s Streetcleaner. This sonic versatility is also the reason why the quintet was able to share the stage with bands as diverse as Oathbreaker, Swans and Yob. Speaking of Yob, the five-piece from steel town was able to convince Mike Scheidt so much that he wanted to contribute to this record and thus “Columbia” was born. A song, somehow typically Mike but at the same time also typically Opium Lord. It takes its time to build slowly but then end pretty harshly with a lot of shrieking, nearly buoy-like guitar work. Yet, this track also exemplifies the single problem of this record. The clean parts make the song more interesting and add to its intensity simultaneously showing that more clean parts would benefit the album – a small blemish as the industrial soundscape of the album is still so dense.
With an album like this it is hard to believe that their former label was not interested enough in them to make this work. However, The Sludgelord profits from it and is able to procure another gem this year with an album whose sonic coldness that never pushes you away but rather draws you in. Birmingham is back with an example how a rusty environment can provide a good basis for a noise-band rubbing rusty metal blades against our ears.