Sludgehammer comes from the great city of Toronto, which is both my hometown and one of the greatest metal cities on earth (especially right now). Much like quite a few bands from this scene, Sludgehammer has a sound that can’t quite be summed up as simply as one subgenre. They incorporate a number of different modern elements, ranging from death metal, to thrash metal, to groove metal (with other occasional influences creeping in). “The Fallen Sun” is their debut full-length, and is 55-minutes of headbanging good fun. It doesn’t matter too much which sound Sludgehammer is playing, because they’re more than competent with all of them.
In general, the vocals move between excellently executed growls to a throatier style of singing. The former is better than the latter, simply because it’s difficult to mess up this style of vocals. The singing isn’t bad by any means, and it could be said that it is both unique and it fits the music, but it’s certainly not virtuosic, nor does it match up with some of the more distinctive singers that are not technically the best (Mustaine, Shelton, Scalzi, and others come to mind).
Where Sludgehammer really shines is in their guitar playing, which has ability to offer a plethora of different riffs, as well as some smoking solos. The coolest guitar work is the opening to “Carrion Eater”, which takes a sharp left turn from much of the rest of the album to channel influence from Running Wild. Indeed, this section clearly features a pirate-influenced melody, which is sure to put a smile on the face of any old-school speed metal fans. The solos tend to be equally tasty, with some impressive playing. The band does a good job of not going overboard in terms of technicality, but still has skillful enough playing that the listener is left impressed.
The difficulty with “The Fallen Sun” is that it’s simply too much. Yes, there are a lot of different things happening here, but it can be hard to latch onto with so many different styles and sounds. On the one hand, there are some really great moments, clearly influenced by the bands of the 1980s and early 1990s, but then there are also a lot more sections that would appeal to fans of modern metal, and generally speaking, those two fanbases do not mix. This is only amplified over the long running time of the record. Sadly, I tend to fall into the former category in terms of personal taste, so while I recognize that Sludgehammer has a lot going for them, “The Fallen Sun” isn’t quite what I’m looking for in metal.
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3.5/5 or 70%.
Written by Scott