CD review -(16)- ‘Dream Squasher’

Californian sludge pioneers -(16)- are certainly anything but newcomers. The roots of the band reach back to 1993 and in the same year the band released a debut album entitled ‘Curves That Kick’. A three year pause between 2004 and 2007 interrupted the flow of -(16)- before ‘Bridges to Burn’ represented the return of the band.

With ‘Dream Squasher’, Bobby Ferry, Cris Jerue, Alex Shuster, Barney Firks and Dion Thurman introduce their latest recording, an album that leaves its mark.

The band themselves describe the record as ‘a testament to the power of loss’, and there’s no better way to describe the mood on ‘Dream Squasher’. Happiness is at the wrong place here. -(16)- are digging through abysses and depths, manifested by massive riffs and desperate, but also energetic vocals. Frontman Cris Jerue screams can’t be more intense than what you get offered in songs like ‘Candy in Spanish’, reflecting all the emotional intensity.

The five guys also have a lot to offer lyrically. One example is ‘Me and the Dog Die Together’, a song about the unconditional friendship between man and dog. It is these songs that, despite all the mental pain, always have a little drop of hope as an undertone.

This drop is missing with ‘Sadlands’. It is a ten-tons riff monster, which, equipped with a Hammond organ, combines sludge and classic rock in an impressive way.

Also ‘Agora (Killed By the Mountain Lion)’ is one of these songs where the band experiments with additional instruments. The introduction by a harmonica quickly turns into a brutal sludge song, but also creates a thoughtful contrast.

‘Dream Squasher’ is not for the faint-hearted. Extremely down-tuned guitars create a wall of riffs in grey and cold concrete. This album is a musical monolith that can’t be discovered after listening to it just once. ‘Dream Squasher’ needs several rounds to unfold its intensity and musical creativity. And after that a little bit of sunlight is surely not bad either.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Tracklist:

  1. Candy in Spanish
  2. Me & the Dog Die Together
  3. Sadlands
  4. Harvester of Fabrication
  5. Acid Tongue
  6. Agora (Killed By A Mountain Lion)
  7. Ride the Waves
  8. Summer of ‘96
  9. Screw Unto Others
  10. Kissing the Choir Boy

Label: Relapse Records

Genre: Sludge/Doom

Release Date EU: June 5th, 2020

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