West Virginia’s sludge/death trio Crown Vic bring the heavy on their latest release Spazzmatic. From the eerily dense atmospheres to just downright brutality, Spazzmatic is a breath of fresh air in an ever-evolving extreme metal underground.
Hailing from Parkersburg, West Virginia, Crown Vic’s sound stems from a brutally executed display of hardcore and beatdown riffs that blend with a deafening low frequency death-sludge style, creating a neurotically disturbing feeling of awe and evoking the deepest sensation of terror in the body and mind of whoever dares listen to them.
The first track on the album, “Your Dead Welcome You”, opens with a warped spoken word passage followed by feedback-oriented distortion which opens up the flood gates with intense rhythmic energy and commanding momentum. Early on, there is an eeriness that begins to creep in as the drum and bass rhythms gather in speed, intersected with ruthless guitar chugs that drop in tempo and allow for the feeling of impending doom to set in. This evil and terrifying sensation then becomes much more established as the second track “Stir Crazy” begins. The lyrics ‘spoiling like a cadaver, my body rots in the sunlight’ echo in your mind as you are forced to sink deeper into this dense space of dread making it seem like there’s no escape to this horrifying sonic world that the band have generated.
The bass tone on Spazzmatic is so filthy, like the grime and sludge that one would likely scrape off the bottom of a barrel. On the title track, this grimy resonance is carried throughout the rest of the instrumentation creating a haunting presence and the menacing guitar tones have this sort of sinister quality to them that exhibits a very atmospheric nature. The band also seem to show a hardcore and beatdown conveyance on the next tracks “Visons of Birth” and “Drug Induced Psychosis” through pacey, thumping guitar rhythms, so abrasive they create intense momentum and depth. The layers of feedback only add to this depth, giving that extra bit of texture, whilst the tempo changes that interweave offer a nice bit of disorder to these songs.
Another interesting addition to this record is the implementation of pop culture and country music references, that at first one may feel are quite odd since they somewhat contrast with the otherwise fearful and ominous tone of the album. However, the warped manipulation that is added actually seems to add to this already disturbing atmosphere. The sample used from the Johnny Cash song “Ring of Fire” at the beginning of “fissuresinthefloor”, for example, gives the impression of devastation looming just around the corner whilst the haunting soundscape that follows implies a feeling of lost hope like the aftermath of some post-apocalyptic nuclear fallout.
The final track “Moloch”, could arguably be the most intense on the EP, this slow build-up of doomy guitar and bass accompanied by fierce drum rhythms have an extremely threatening and confrontational heaviness about them. The vocals are further articulated with such a spine-chilling quality that puts shivers down the spine of the listener and adds to weight of the instrumentation. The final moments of the EP are gifted by one last display of brutality as the tempo drastically drops and the layers of feedback pierce through the speakers as if to say the end of anything that isn’t pure evil is upon us.
Whilst maybe there are times on this record where the intensity of these rhythmic sections could be expanded further, Spazzmatic sets out to do what it intended, building a sonically dense and bone-chilling atmosphere through brutal riffs, eerie soundscapes, and producing a distorted, mind-altering state of semi-consciousness. Crown Vic appear to be developing a new musical direction with this EP becoming another fresh addition within the deep and unchartered territories of extreme metal’s contemporary underground.