Deep Cuts from Dark Clouds
Having put themselves back in the sludge picture with their Relapse debut ‘Bridges to Burn‘, 16 are back with ten more tracks of sonic bleakness, where once again positivity is properly shut out and only heavy misery remains, and vocalist Cris Jerue spitting out lyrical woes over various chug sludge riffs. They haven’t evolved much over time, even up to now, and simply don’t feel the need to. They convey their message very effectively indeed.
Initially I struggled to find anything particularly memorable about ‘Deep Cuts‘, even though there’s nothing wrong with the material. Its very much as you were and perhaps one of the things I can note is how Jerue’s vocals, wrapped in distortion, rarely ascend from (though no less passionate for it) a consigned-to-the-gutter scowl – as opposed to his fierce yell on ‘Throw in the Towel’ (from ‘Bridges to Burn‘) for example. I don’t raise that particularly as a negative point, just one that to me stood out on an album full of solid riffs and jams, but few on standout moments. That said, now I’ve heard the album a few times, there are a fair few shining moments, and when they do occur, they really do stand out – personally I’m digging the bludgeoning breakdown on ‘The Sad Clown’, and the brutally raw ‘Bowels of a Baby Killer’, with the line ‘blame/it’s not your fault/shame/but you deserve it‘. And ‘Only Photographs Remain’ is one of the (lyrically) most miserable tracks you’ll certainly here all year and one of the best too. A real sludge downer to finish on, it deals with the subject of grief appropriately, and you can actually sense the gloom in Jerue’s voice, and in the band’s instruments, as he growls ‘feel my pain/only photographs remain‘.
It’s a strange sensation to say there’s not a lot of stand out moments, though, when you’ve actually enjoyed said album. Perhaps it says a lot about how little 16 have changed over the years, focusing instead on their sludge/noise racket to create an abrasive, wallowing experience, no less intense than previous records, just one mired in heavy, sludge addiction abuse. Those perhaps craving a little more from this band might be slightly disappointed, but most will celebrate the return of a band that have had more than a few troubles of their own in the past. I’ll choose to sit in the latter camp. It’s not 16’s best work by any means, but not many can make such depression sound better.
Stream it below: