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Lazarus Blackstar: Hymns For The Cursed

Surly British sludge crew on the rise

With increased press coverage and a grassroots buzz, there’s a clear sense that Lazarus Blackstar are due to break through to wider recognition, which, bearing in mind the nature of their crushingly heavy and bleak output, would be no small feat.

Now on their third full-length, the band have honed their filthy sludge/doom attack, ably lurching from a chugging stomp to the more crawling and drawn-out passages, characterised by crashing percussion and huge riffs that threaten to block out all light and plunge the listener into hopeless darkness – just as the band would like it no doubt, the heartless bastards.

Despite the sludge template, the influences here are fairly wide, with some obvious nods to crust/hardcore (unsurprising since Bri of Doom is on bass), Celtic Frost, a few Entombed overtones and even a cover of US hardcore heroes Infest (who themselves are partial to a bit of sludge). The first album to feature new vocalist Mik Hell is one that does the band proud and his performance offers a dynamic range that complements the band’s material well. Not the most upbeat release this year, but one that’s well worth hearing.