Review: Sludgehammer “Antechamber”

Review: Sludgehammer “Antechamber”

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Enjoy almost 50 minutes of top-of-the-line melodic, furious and electrifying Groove Metal, courtesy of five Canadian metallers armed with their amazing sophomore album.

Following the fantastic feedback received from their debut album The Fallen Sun, from 2017, Canadian Melodic Death/Groove Metal outfit Sludgehammer is ready to smash our heads once again with their furious, groovy and thunderous music in Antechamber, their sophomore release and a must-have for fans of the music by renowned acts like Pantera, Lamb Of God and Mastodon. Formed in 2013 in the city of Toronto, in the province of Ontario, the band comprised of newcomer Josh Stephney on vocals (replacing the band’s original vocalist Chris Szarota), Jeff Wilson and Tyler Williams on the guitars, Dan Ayers on bass and backing vocals, and Fernando Villalobos on drums is on absoluter fire in Antechamber, cementing their names not only in the Canadian metal scene, but across the entire world of heavy music.

“The whole process has been trial by fire. We bring what we have to the table and if it fits our signature blend then we roll with it. Over the years from our first release until now, our sound has matured quite well and it’s all thanks to the support and input from our fans and friends that have kept us going down the right path thus far. We can only hope to keep pleasing who we do with our albums while bringing in a new level of fan base due to our more well rounded and heavy-yet-easy listening style,” the band commented about Antechamber, inviting us all to slam into the pit to the sound of their unrelenting and extremely groovy music. And we should definitely heed their call based on the music found in Antechamber, no doubt about that.

Thunderous riffs invade our ears in the opening tune “No Control”, a modern and dense Death Metal feast with tons of groove, while Josh growls the song’s austere lyrics rabidly (“The struggled and the tangled, the wretched and the baffled, all dwell within my mindless temple. Just like a pandora’s box of your misguided judgment, these belongings in my mind seek reincarnation / Taking on (take on the hell among us) / Destruction (of all the souls to come)”); and they continue their onrush of aggressive sounds with Dan firing rumbling punches from his bass in “Broken Sea”, where the deep guttural roars and the cleaner but still enraged backing vocals match perfectly, with a sick guitar solo complementing all their sonic havoc beautifully. And in “Climatic Death” we’re treated to vocals that remind me of M. Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold in a frantic fusion of contemporary Death Metal with Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore, also showcasing Jeff and Tyler kicking some ass with their riffs and solos.

Get ready to snap your neck in half with the headbanging riff blasted by the band’s guitar duo in “Forsaken Souls”, while Fernando shows no mercy for his drum set. Put differently, it’s top-notch Groove Metal presenting piercing vocal lines, visceral growls and a beyond dense atmosphere, which is also the case in “Balance of Life”, offering five minutes of electrifying Death and Groove Metal infused with Nu Metal elements where once again the guitars sound utterly flammable, providing all Josh needs to thrive with his growls. Hence, it’s impossible not to keep banging your head nonstop to its amazing rhythm. Then a pensive intro on the guitars morphs into a mid-tempo, heavy and dark sonority in “The Long Road”, before all hell breaks loose and the band’s stringed trio attack without mercy, delivering a blend of their more extreme music with the sound from bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest.

Then it’s time to jump up and down as hard as you can together with the band in “Eternal Darkness”, a solid display of Groove Metal with hints of Southern Metal (specially in its incendiary riffs), where the lyrics couldn’t have been more poetic and obscure (“Destined to rise and fall, a path to hell below us all. Conquer the chilling grip of cold forever clinging to your soul. / My bleeding eyes see weakness in your disguise. All consequence unending. Life sustaining, slowly draining. / Death shepherds true words of twilight. Take to leading with his hand. Taken to his place in madness to reap the name you’re given.”), whereas in “Supernova Silhouette” the band brings forth over eight minutes of a journey through the realms of groovy and pounding extreme music, from its serene and epic start to its imposing and heavy passages, all led by the vicious beats by Fernando and Josh’s demented screams, ending with a fantastic guitar duel and sheer violence in the form of music. And last but not least, “Line ’em Up” is what can be called “Pub Metal”, being perfect for banging your head and crushing your skull into the circle pit while Sludgehammer destroy everything and everyone with their berserk music, therefore resulting in a thrilling conclusion to such hammering and groovy album.

In summary, the five Torontonian horsemen from Sludgehammer are beyond sharp, austere and pulverizing in Antechamber, on sale from their own BandCamp page as well as form iTunes and from Amazon, and based on how passionate Sludgehammer are about their music we can expect several future albums of first-class metal music made in Canada from those talented musicians. Having said that, if you want to show your true support to Sludgehammer, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, and enjoy more of their killer music on YouTube and on Spotify. This is melodic, furious and dynamic Groove Metal at its finest, and I’m sure you’ll love to have your head smashed by the ruthless Sludgehammer while listening to their music.

Best moments of the album: Forsaken Souls, Eternal Darkness and Supernova Silhouette.

Worst moments of the album: Climatic Death.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing

  1. No Control 5:08
  2. Broken Sea 5:09
  3. Climatic Death 5:02
  4. Forsaken Souls 4:41
  5. Balance of Life 5:00
  6. The Long Road 5:02
  7. Eternal Darkness 4:10
  8. Supernova Silhouette 8:37
  9. Line ’em Up 4:11

Band members
Josh Stephney – vocals
Jeff Wilson – guitar
Tyler Williams – guitar
Dan Ayers – bass, backing vocals
Fernando Villalobos – drums

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