In reaching a point of behavioral sink without insight the supposed top of the food chain teems with unfit examples of monstrous humanity. Those who’ve been flustered and impassioned generations past are now born into more than simple frustration. The murderous, petulant and inbred predispositioned minds pop like dry grains around us erupting with gunfire and cruelly focused menace. Lies and sickening tribalism force the hands of unwilling participants for the sake of feigned community among the selfish. What little rope is left for the post-Christian societies on Earth is exactly long enough for a noose; The hope is that the piling corpses won’t be too poisonous for the species as a whole to recover. There is a seeming eternity in any personal struggle and Karlshamn, Sweden sludge quartet Signo Rojo quickly acknowledge this on the title track for ‘End of Tether’, their third studio recording since forming in 2009. The song itself speaks to the slowly circling doom, the loss of the individual, felt within the grind of modern day corporatism. Though their cry for survival of the self is earnest inspiration, it is merely a palliative medication for the incurable ills of life in servitude to the machine so many of us are born into.
Having really enjoyed discovering this modern independent sludge metal band with the release of their second full-length, ‘Svårfödd’, in 2017 I was entirely excited to see what they’d been up to the in the fifteen or so months since. Signo Rojo are the sort of band that wriggles in slowly, almost deceptively simple in their approach but deeply layered in both meaning and composition. Heavily influenced by hardcore punk, and sludge metal old and new, there twitches the spirit of the outraged introvert within the projects output that’d taken on a soulful, serious Baroness-esque tone on ‘Svårfödd’. In 2019 they’re a bit more aggressive, honing in on the extremes of their dynamic and using those strengths to accentuate catchier songwriting. ‘End of Tether’ brings a bit less of the intentional profundity of Baroness‘ ‘Blue Record’ and a bit more of the raw wit of Kylesa‘s ‘Static Tensions’, if you will, though fans of either band will do well to try Signo Rojo out in general.
“Märkvärdig” is not only notable for its structure, a nice evolution from that of ‘Svårfödd’, but also for the expressive value of Jonas Nilsson‘s performance in Swedish. This extra touch of accent feels quite natural as it adds additional dramatic flair to Nilsson‘s tendency to ‘soar’ within chorus; In terms of translating intimacy onto record this use of native language is a very strong moment for the project. The composition of the track reminds me just a bit of ‘Times of Grace’ era Neurosis with the build towards plodding, heavier riffs and this provided a nice contrast with the catchier, shorter presence of the first two songs on the EP. I found myself cranking up the volume higher than usual just to take a closer listen to the vocal layers while listening to ‘End of Tether’ and I found the subtle watery effects on certain parts of “Breeder” distinct. A nice touch that I couldn’t quite put my finger on until I’d sat with it for a few spins. The cumulative effect of those smaller details, along with increasingly memorable songwriting, make it easy to recommend Signo Rojo‘s latest EP to fans of modern and melodically inclined sludge metal. Highly recommended. For preview I think you need to at least hear “Märkvärdig” and jump onto the title track if you need something a bit more direct.
Decay into mercury. 4.0/5.0
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