Mudbath - Red Desert Orgy (EP) (2012)


With the Olympics in full swing, it's easy to view bands across the world as athletes at different stages of their careers. For Mudbath, a five piece outfit from Avignon, France, their time in the spotlight is just beginning. Fusing together elements of sludge, doom, and black metal into one devilish conglomerate, this five piece stands, toes to the line, ready to race ahead of the competition. On their debut EP, "Red Desert Orgy," they not only excel in their style of choice, but they also pound the other entries into the ground with an  earth rattling low end.

The offering begins on "Loserwood," where a crying guitar is met with a wall of rumbling bass. The down tuned groove pulls you deep into its web, where bloodcurdling screams suffocate you. Each pounding drum beat shakes the subwoofer of your speakers, while a rattling cymbal sits on top of the mix. The mix is perfect, allowing the sludge covered guitars to command it all, while also giving spotlight to the rhythm section. There are times where the vocal patterns don't seem to match up to the musical accompaniment, almost seeming too busy for the music itself. But those sections are easily overshadowed by the more impressive ones, ones where wailing guitar solos somehow find a perfect home in a bass heavy doom song. Aside from the lead work, there isn't anything particularly complicated at play, but everything is placed just so, giving you every reason to raise a fist.

The following track, "Mudjahideen," follows a similar formula, but with two very distinct vocal styles at work. The first, a loud yelling in the verse, is new, while the other, the black metal inspired screech, is a holdover from the previous track. How the two work together is key, as their call and response layering gives the track a great back and forth. There is a depth to the musical recording, one that continues to surprise you with tiny details. Again, you won't find anything groundbreaking in these seven heavy minutes, but what you will find is a five piece who have a very strong command of what they do. So much so that when you finally think you have the track figured out, around the four minute mark, it blows up in your face. The tempo increases, the beats come faster and with more force, and every element crashes down on you. The solo that follow, with all its blues influence, may not seem like much on its own. But in the scope of the music and the track, it carries so much weight.

The final track, the bizarrely titled "Smells Like Teen Cunt," has a much shorter buildup than the others, choosing to come from a weak riff into full on explosion, rather than block by block. The screaming vocals share space with an off key cry, but they are buried so deep in the mix, beneath guitars, bass and drums, that they are almost a backing element, rather than a lead. As with the rest of the album, the guitars are the true star, breaking through time and again with a catchy riff, a soulful solo, or just a shaking burst of distortion. While the song does pick up steam as it moves along, it fails to reach the peak that you are waiting for. This is not to say it doesn't have victories along the way, but it doesn't match the intensity that was displayed earlier. The final two minutes, in fact, are little more than an extended outro of slow drum beats and one chord at a time chugging.

Everyone needs to start somewhere. For Mudbath, this is the perfect time and place. through these three tracks, and just under 22 minutes, there are clear strengths and weaknesses. Thankfully, the weaknesses are easily identified, and even more easily fixed. With a little more focus on the vocal structures, and a little variety on the longer tracks, this could be the beginning of something much bigger. But, fortunately, the starting line is where "Red Desert Orgy" stands. And with a clear view of the track ahead, France's newest sludge group could find themselves leading the pack soon enough.

7/10

Bandcamp - http://mudbath.bandcamp.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mudbath/329983097015555