The prolific Louisiana sludge metal band Thou have a song on their first full length album called "Fucking chained to the bottom of the ocean". The song does an excellent job of giving a sound to the bleak oppressiveness of confinement. There is something extremely evocative in the song title alone, conjuring images of someone eternally shackled in the icy darkness below the ocean’s lapping waves. The Massachusetts sludge metal band Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean must have thought as much, as they most certainly took their name from the song. If we needed any more evidence that Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean are fans of Thou, they recorded a cover of “The Chain” which Thou and The Body performed at the KEXP studio in 2015, which is a cover of Fleetwood Mac's classic "The Chain".
After a series of excellent EPs, Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean have just released a full length album called Obsession Destruction. I have spent a lot of time listening to it in the two weeks since its release, and have been very impressed with it. Like the band Thou, Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean are able to combine elements of crushing ugliness with moments of melodic beauty, creating some very affecting songs. The album artwork for Obsession Destruction is equally impressive, a commission from the late Mariusz Lewandowski, which features a trapped deity trying to tear its way out of a veined amniotic sac. It is an image that feels right at home with Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean’s oppressive music.
It is hard for me to choose a favorite song from the album to talk about, but I have decided to write about “The Chalice”. This is a song that I first heard a snippet from the opening of the podcast Hive Scum, a podcast dedicated to miniature wargaming with a focus on things both grim and dark.
“The Chalice” begins with some controlled feedback and deliberately held out guitar riffs and percussion, until it reaches a confident stride with a gnarly guitar riff complemented by vocalist's harsh rasps. The galloping pace recedes back into feedback and the controlled riffage.
When the vocalist starts singing again, they are describing a dire situation of some personal duress:
“Your grip is iron.
Blood slips from my teeth.
You pour over me
until I am broken.
Melted, mended, innocent.
The last time I'll cry
until I see God.”
As the song comes to an end, the instrumentation falls away, and is replaced by a distorted guitar riff, and the vocalist screams something that sounds like “fuck”, and the entirety of the band picks up again in an intensity that will surely cause anyone in the pit at a live performance to go wild. The vocalist projecting his vitriol with the final searing pronouncement:
“When I meet my maker,
he'll have to kill me twice.
No more forgiveness,
just a hole in my life.”
If you like harsh and uncompromising music, you should not sleep on Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean!
Find their music here: https://chainedtothebottomoftheocean.bandcamp.com/album/obsession-destruction