Written by Kirk
Adzes – Inver
> Atmospheric sludge metal
> New Zealand
> Releasing October 27
> Self-release (digital)/Philip K. Discs (CD)/Euphoriadic (cassette)
When discussing sludge metal, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For me, it’s an abrasive, aggressive approach to doom metal that shares a border with hardcore. Obviously, bands like Crowbar, Eyehategod, and Acid Bath come to mind as they were amongst the progenitors of the sub-genre, but the style has grown by leaps and bounds since its early days in the American deep south. Much like how Cajun culture became more commonplace as native Louisianans were displaced in the mid-2000s after Hurricane Katrina decimated New Orleans, sludge metal took on new characteristics as it traveled farther north than the swamps of Louisiana and Georgia, mingling with such styles as post-metal and progressive metal (among others) in bands like Cult of Luna, Baroness, and Mastodon.
Much like pretty much every sub-genre of heavy metal, old traditions are honored while founding new traditions in an effort to keep the music both alive and vibrant. While it’s easy to find bands that sound like carbon copies of the bands that gave life to this wonderfully heavy music we all love so dearly, it’s probably equally—if not moreso—easy to find bands that are taking influences from heavy metal as well as those of other adjacent (and sometimes non-adjacent) genres to create something truly unique. Sadly, metal’s heyday in the forefront of popular culture is likely not going to come back around anytime soon, but, as we’ve seen with punk and rock ‘n’ roll, life in the underground is just fine. And while I really don’t think anyone is quite yet ready for any heavy metal bands to start recording Taylor Swift covers (looking at you, Ghost), it has been nice to see some of the current pop stars repping the underground.
Speaking of the underground, when’s the last time you caught up with Adzes? We got a split album last year with Putrescine (out now on Euphoriadic), but we haven’t had a full-length from the one-man atmospheric sludge king since the release of No One Wants to Speak About It in mid-2020. Fortunately, that’s all about to change as we witness the arrival of Inver, the sophomore album from Mr. Forest Bohrer’s delightfully discordant tour de force. Having eschewed the misty forests of Seattle, WA for a calmer, less chaotic way of life in New Zealand, there’s a noticeably different approach to atmospheric sludge metal here, something both comfortably familiar and caustically fresh. Like Inver will feel at home amongst your record collection while also having fistfights with your favorite albums behind your back. Think the original album jacket for the first Durutti Column record: sand paper so as to destroy what once came before.
What you will notice almost immediately about Inver is this drastically different approach for Mr. Bohrer. From the very first note of “Eroding Tides,” it is abundantly clear that this is a new era for Adzes. For those who have been around since the beginning, there has always been an undeniable sense of anger in the music, dominated and expertly expressed through Bohrer’s particular approach to atmospheric sludge. The songs have been loud, cacophonous, and aggressive, very akin to a raging inferno. But much of this dynamic is gone in Inver, adopting an approach that is synonymous with the album title. You see, the word “inver” is of Gaelic origin and means “the confluence of water with another body of water.” But what does that mean in musical terms? Listen closely, and you will hear how perfectly the sludge metal elements and post-metal elements align, creating an almost shoegaze-like wall of sound that washes over you again and again.
Now, does that mean that the music of Adzes no longer comes from a place of leftist outrage? Far from it! While we tend to associate anger with an element like fire, a force of destruction that engulfs everything in its path, we ignore how much more powerful the element of water is. Capable of both granting life as well as taking it, there is duality in water, and this duality can be found in Inver. Bohrer is hardly ready to pack up and move into a monastery á la Justin Marler of Sleep. But perhaps Jimmy Buffett was right: Changes in latitudes means changes in attitudes. Relocating to New Zealand has allowed Bohrer to have a new perspective on the world and a chance to put new focus on his artistic output. So is this new sound what we can expect from Adzes going forward? Perhaps, and I certainly wouldn’t mind it because this record is a massive leap forward for the project, but it’s important for us as listeners to give artists room to experiment and grow. Because, when you don’t put expectations on the art you consume, you’d be surprised how often it can surprise you.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting really tired of constantly having the same argument about the “value” of art. Just because something cannot be monetized doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value. The lexicon of human history is riddled with life-changing pieces of art that were driven by the human spirit and the need to create, not the need to pay this month’s utilities bill. Art—much like language—is a skill that is enhanced through time and practice. Similarly, our life experiences are what shape who we are as individuals. It’s unrealistic to expect the ever-fluid nature of life to follow a specific plan, so why should we expect art to do the same? When allowed to take its natural course, life—like art—can be full of surprises, which is the essence of Inver. Because when you accept that there are some things you simply cannot control, only then are you free to grow.