Formed in California in 1992 and disbanding in 2004 and reforming in 2007 is quite a history already. Through time before and after disbanding line up shuffles occurred but were able to land a deal with Relapse Records and release their “debut” in 2009 and now “Deep Cuts From Dark Clouds” coming out in 2012. There line-up has seemed to solidify and this is reflected in their latest LP. All members are firing on all cylinders with with this release. Even with their long and somewhat difficult history these sludge masters have not missed a beat and in fact may have found their stride on this one.
This release is sludge metal at its best, it properly fuzzed and tuned down to buzz the ears of the even the most cautious of listeners. Their latest offering opens with “Theme from ‘Pillpopper’ “ on the dirty sludge chords of guitarist Bobby, and then proceeds onward to assault you with Mateo and Tony’s driving down trodden beat with Cris adding in a thick slab of vocals. These vocals are unique and a seamless join of scream, growl, clean types of singing; it seems that if you throw all those characteristics in a blender, out oozed Cris’s perfect tone, pitch and delivery for sludge metal. The SoCal boys march right into “Parasite”, more nicely carved chords, over powering beat which come in wave and after wave so much so that you can hardly catch your breath in this song. 16 certainly is setting themselves as contenders if not champions of the sludge metal death match.
The music speaks for itself through the remaining tracks. They all have the groove and utter bleakness that really define their sound. Although not always decipherable, the lyrics really add that dark and foreboding feel, its almost like its this last gear to slips into place to get the whole engine ramped up and racing. The story that Cris tells next to the wonderfully albeit in a black and dirty sense, tapestry of sound really just quells any doubt that 16 is here and here to stay.
With bands like King Giant, Hail!Hornet coming on stage as of late it is time it seems as if we are seeing a violent upheaval of sludge metal which is just fine with this reviewer. We can certainly place 16 alongside fellow pioneers Buzzov*en and Eyehategod. Any doubts about 16’s proper place is washed away in the mudslide that is “Deep Cuts from Dark Clouds”. This is a must for all sludge metal fans, come back to sludge metal, it never left, its stronger and dirtier than ever.