When sludge metal gets cut with other seemingly sympathetic genres, the outcome is sometimes good (Neurosis, Cult of Luna, Isis) but often boring and generally a misfire (the bands that rip off Neurosis, Cult of Luna, and Isis). But when The Abominable Iron Sloth dropped their riff-packed, industrial-sized bucket of sludgy stoner hardcore on metalheads and metal-hangers on in ‘06, it was a deceptively simple but incredibly effective mix of Eyehategod’s strung out, bluesy assault and hardcore’s deep, (sigh) infectious grooves that one wondered why such a synthesis of the two hadn’t been nailed so adeptly in the past. After four years and a few go-arounds in the band’s revolving door lineup, The Abominable Iron Sloth have finally gotten around to releasing a followup, The Id Will Overcome. And while it’s certainly not the streamlined riff-fest that their debut was, there are still moments where the band remind you of their prowess in the business of straddling the gap between genres: The Abominable Iron Sloth are far too repugnant for the compressed, formulaic landscape of modern, mall-friendly hardcore, but are also too tangible and surprisingly catchy to inhabit the same condemned squats where sludge metal’s kingpins presumably reside. They occupy a space all their own, and when they’re doing what they do best –playing a stoner/sludge riff for the moshcore kids — they’re just as epic as their borderline-ridiculous band name may suggest.

Not that sludge metal has necessarily been devoid of muscle, but The Abominable Iron Sloth injects a level of testosterone and swagger the genre seems to be missing, directing disgust and self-hatred outward with maximum damage. And good Lord, is a lot of damage done: “A Nation of Ignorants” locks barbed riffs into a violent groove; “Two Black Helicopters” begins as a sort of jaunty two-step, the morphs into a floor-clearing breakdown, then dissolves into a sparse, dissonant airspace; “Tramp Stamp” seems intent on destroying the world in a minute and ten seconds with a dope sick reimagining of the outro of Rage Against the Machine’s “Freedom”; the Celestial-era Isis march of closer “The Timely Death of Billy Mays” inches forward at its own pace but manages to devastate like a song at twice its speed; and “Mongoroid” (which is in the running for year’s best song title) spends its last half dragging the song to a bloody conclusion. Like most band’s that do this sort of thing well, they’re violent and nauseating, but also make riffs and songs memorable, making for a rubbernecking sort of appeal. The Abominable Iron Sloth, when firing on all cylinders, are horrifying and yet, in a sick way, kind of fun.

Of course, where The Id Will Overcome falters is where its predecessor generally didn’t: its tendency to experiment. Some songs are fine-but-forgettable, and while buffer/intro track “Big Iron Door” features clean singing and is pretty ignorable, it’s also pretty unnecessary. But the big-ass elephant in the room is the fourteen minute dark ambient track “Heterodox Nonconformists,” the most confusing inclusion of an instrumental song in the middle of a metal record since Burzum split up Filosofem with the twenty-five minute wordlessness of “Rundtgåing av den transcendentale egenhetens støtte.” As a whole, The Id Will Overcome cowers in the shadow of its predecessor, but when the album is taken not as the sum of its parts but by its most worthwhile moments, it’s further proof of how entertaining the band are. Few can take filth and make it digestible the way The Abominable Iron Sloth can. We need more dudes doing this.

(3 out of 5 horns)


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