Review: Sewer Goddess, Painlust (Black Plagve, 2015)

Recently issued through Malignant Records' Black Plagve imprint, Painlust is the second proper full-length from Boston's Sewer Goddess—though in this genre six tracks in 28 minutes might be considered more of an EP, but I digress...

Opener "Plague Axis" may consist of eerie feedback hums morphing towards lurching, mechanized percussive scrapes and bangs over a low, droning melody with indecipherable vocal sneers distortedly reverberating from a distance (tactics that later resurface during the ominous "Get the Rope"), but don't go assuming this to be a journey of power electronics-tinged dark ambient/death industrial. In fact, it's actually uniquely sinister industrial/doom metal with some experimental noise textures creating a sense of abstract darkness.

"My Grave," for example, provides a stark contrast: utilizing a full band lineup and somewhat "traditional" songwriting that builds upon fairly slow, doomy riffs loaded with warped, dissonant, Godflesh-like textures and simple, resonant percussive surges. There are still some grittily distorted layers of noise, however, and the spoken vocals are mixed right in with the music, so it remains a challenge to pick out much of the lyrical content. "Flog" picks up in a similar vein of pounding, repetitious riffs/rhythms—the obscured vocals almost buried by the instrumentation until just past the halfway point, when the remainder of the piece is largely constructed with moaned whispers under intense effects. And "Black Meat and Bones" is a bit more midpaced and hectic, tossing in squealing harmonics that are even more reminiscent of early Godflesh (as does closer "Melena's Mask"). It's worth clarifying, though, that despite obvious nods in portions of the guitar work and percussive arrangements, Sewer Goddess doesn't particularly sound like Godflesh in terms of song structure or holistic aesthetic.

While I haven't seen the physical packaging and can't speak to the lyrical content, the album sounds damn nice and the atmosphere is top-notch. The compositions average about four-and-a-half minutes apiece for a dark, aggressive, cohesive listen that makes its point without excessively beating you into submission and overstaying its welcome.

There are a few loosely comparable projects out there that have now become somewhat "popular," I suppose, but I'd have to say that Painlust seems far superior, so as usual I find myself at a loss as to why Sewer Goddess hasn't garnered more attention. Excellent work.

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