When you’ve proven yourself a failure and all collapses beneath you there is a great lesson in completely giving up. Those who would encourage and reinvent your demolished self are either vulture-beaked profiteers off of the inevitable sediment of human societies or sorrow junkies hoping to moonlight as some kind of sickening minor messiah. Whether or not you choose to give up, to blow your head off or just rethink your goals in life, you’ve secured a new personal limitation that will privately define you. There is no need for a pep talk nor belief in the feigned undying will that all humanity possesses to persevere; You’re a person for being beaten down by life and whatever inbred simian pressure you feel to overthrow your fellow man either rots with your corpse or intensifies the dead-eyed stare of your newly shed naivete. You need to hit that ‘total dump’ point in life, as French noise/sludge rock band Sofy Major puts it; Trust that your lowest low is as intoxicating as your highest high and you must feel it before you go on living or dying. Survival in the face of numerous beatings, a seemingly endless testing of wills will inevitably build a chip on the shoulder of the life-experienced; From ‘Permission to Engage’ (2010) to ‘Total Dump’ these stoner-leveled sludge rock fellows have consistently aberrated the face of collapse into oozing, grinning, shoulder-brushing artform.
The weighty thumping of ‘Permission to Engage’ saw Sofy Major reeling in their collective influences into a tight extrusion of pre-millennium sludge (16, Melvins) and post-millennium sludge (High on Fire) empowered by a pronounced love of heavier noise rock (Unsane) that sported a stoney edge that’d not yet been softened by post-hardcore and grunge influences. These guys were -ready- and the ensuing big-deal production of their second album ‘Idolize’ (2013) was demolished around them, literally blasted to ruins as hurricane Sandy hurled Brooklyn studio Translator Audio unto disrepair. With help from Translator alum Unsane‘s Dave Curran the album happened and ‘Idolize’ was a small triumph for the group as they’d refined the approach of their first record and built ties with Curran who would go on to produce their next two records. ‘Waste’ (2015) would be the trios last collaboration with guitarist Sébastien Fournet but the record is more notable for its incredible bass-clanging heaviness, the damn thing just growled underneath bassist Mathieu Moulin‘s increasingly melodic vocal affect which began to resemble Steve Brooks (Floor, Torche). They could’ve gone on refining that record a third time and flourished within its momentum for another decade but, with the addition of guitarist/vocalist Thomas Dantil Sofy Major begin to explore the richer extremes offered through personal (and collective) lows they’d pushed through these last couple of years.
Are they yet the walking wounded in 2019? I mean all I have is the extreme high of ‘Total Dump’ to work with here and the damn thing is too much of a triumph to juice any truly dark blood out of. From the get-go I was a little smacked-on by this fourth Sofy Major kick as it rolls in like a Torche record then proceeds to create waves of sludge rock a la Big Business (see: ‘Battlefields Forever’) with a punchiness capable of flitting between Red Fang‘s clever stoner-grunginess and Whores.‘ more recent violence. They’re not the first band that’ve tasked themselves with connecting the dots between post-hardcore rhythms, late 80’s/early 90’s noise rock’s grunge-adjacent Big Muff‘d wilderness, and modern sludge fidelity but Sofy Major do it better than most. If you’re braindead like I am you might not really start listening until “Strike” bashes into a ‘Meantime’ worthy riff that gives way to a chorus of “In Bloom”-esque post-hardcore peaks. The joy of a band like Sofy Major is in these very slightly referential details as they enhance the steady rise of songcraft that becomes evident within a chronological full discography listen.
‘Total Dump’ is a new peak, a higher high that resulted from the acceptance of deeper sickly lows. New triumphs are obvious in terms of slickly produced sound enhancing already well-groomed and cleverly gelled influences. Performances within are made all the more impressive with the relatively recent inclusion of the aforementioned new third, Dantil, who is comparatively more capable and exploratory than his predecessor. It was no surprise where Sofy Major‘s sound was going if you’d suctioned hard onto ‘Waste’ but I was nonetheless impressed that they were able to get there with a new addition and still deliver beyond expectations. Highly recommended to the greater modern noise rock fandom and any under-served lovers of sludge-rock hybridization. For preview I’d say you really need to jump right to the Coliseum-sized (see: ‘Sister Faith’) grooves of “Giant Crush Crash” and then pick your poison between the big hook on “Strike” or the beer-at-the-park head-bobbing swagger of “Franky Butthole”.
Hooked by the jaw, smacked. 4.25/5.0
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