After suffering through a particularly excruciating rendition of someone’s idea of what “crust” is, Lance is embarking on a soul-searching journey of self-righteous education, one embattled subgenre at a time. Watch as he attempts to describe an entire subgenre of heavy music using less than 300 words. There’s a bonus playlist of essential artists and releases after for your perusal. This time around… SLUDGE! Tell Lance how wrong he is in the comments below or on Twitter @LanceMarwood.

The Skinny: When it comes to sludge metal, sibling to stoner and doom metal, the slight differences can be tricky to spot (like the differences between crust and d-beat), so listen up: stoner metal is sludge with weed smoke. Sludge is often more political and nihilistic, and its sound is often darker. Going from The Melvins (who started in the Washington scene in 1984) we move over to the New Orleans Lousiana scene, which in the late ’80s was churning the incestuous likes of Eyehategod, Crowbar, and eventually Down and Superjoint Ritual.

These bands would go on to form the backbone of the genre’s output during the late ’80s and early ’90s, most continuing into today. Meanwhile in the early ’90s, Grief (originating from Boston) made their indelible mark on the genre with a prevalence of important releases and touring. Meanwhile, all the way over in Nottingham, England, Fudge Tunnel were creating their own take on the genre while simultaneously landing themselves in hot water over their grim sense of humour. Important influences during the early to mid-’90s period include Dystopia (who released a split with Grief), noted for injecting crust sensibilities into the genre, Acid Bath, and Buzzov*en.

Moving into the late ’90s, various bands began flexing their influence from the genre, such as Boris, Cult of Luna, and later on bands like High On Fire and Red Fang. While all these bands are generally placed in other branches of metal, it’s important to note that sludge is a breeding ground of sound that gets incorporated into other more “fixed” strains of metal, such as stoner and doom metal. Today, sludge has heroes in the likes of Eyehategod and Crowbar, while contemporary greats like Mastodon and Baroness continue the tradition these former bands helped forge.

Mandatory Sludge Listening Playlist:

01. Fudge Tunnel – “Hate Songs In E Minor” (1991, Relativity Records)
02. Melvins – “Houdini” (1993, Atlantic Records)
03. Grief – “Come To Grief” (1994, Century Media Records)
04. Dystopia – “Human=Garbage” (1994, Life Is Abuse)
05. Acid Bath – “When The Kite String Pops” (1994, Rotten Records)
06. Buzzov*en – “Sore” (1994, Roadrunner Records)
07. Down – “NOLA” (1995, Elektra Records)
08. Eyehategod – “Dopesick” (1996, Century Media Records)
09. Crowbar – “Odd Fellows Rest” (1998, Mayhem)
10. Baroness – “Red Album” (2007, Relapse Records)

Check out the Melvins song “Night Goat”

Be sure to also check out:
A Ridiculously Short History of… GRINDCORE
A Ridiculously Short History of… CRUST
A Ridiculously Short History of… DOOM


Communications Manager @ V13. Lance Marwood is a music and entertainment writer who has been featured in both digital and print publications, including a foreword for the book "Toronto DIY: (2008-2013)" and The Continuist. He has been creating and coordinating content for V13 since 2015 (back when it was PureGrainAudio); before that he wrote and hosted a radio and online series called The Hard Stuff , featuring interviews with bands and insight into the Toronto DIY and wider hardcore punk scene. He has performed in bands and played shows alongside acts such as Expectorated Sequence, S.H.I.T., and Full of Hell.