Released: 2002, Magic Circle
There is quite a bit to live up to for this band. Bludgeon are the first signing by Magic Circle Records, a label run by Joey De Maio of Manowar and a label that is affiliated with Metal Blade. As a life-long Manowar fan I was very curious to see what Joey considered to be worthy of inclusion. I also know when to take label hype (any label) with a grain of salt. I knew it would be good but how good?
I was thrown off guard by the cover. A crucified priest? A spiky steel font logo? Holy Death Metal! Well not really…but Bludgeon is about as close to an accurate description of band that I have heard in a long, long time. This CD bludgeoned me and reminds me a lot of Forced Entry. Seriously. Really, really damn heavy without being fast thrash or death metal. Just crushing. Bludgeon are not death or thrash but they are certainly extremely heavy and intense, an intensity level Pantera only wishes they could reach.
The packaging is good, with the nice added bonus of fairly extensive liner notes by metal journalist Vinni Cecolini describing the production process, namely playing live in a house they gutted and dubbed Bludgeonville. There are lots of photos too. The band is as ugly as their music and they will probably come and beat me up for saying so. The inside back photo under the clear tray is funny too! The lyrics are very simplistic, more along the lines of short bursts of aggressive phrases, rather than long, flowing passages of elaborate, multi-syllabic prose. For the most part they don’t really deal with specific topics per say but can be interpreted as anger towards many things, people and places.
Musically this is pure heavy metal. Not just “Metal” ,but “heavy “ metal. A subtle distinction I realize but many readers will understand what I mean. There is lots of bass and drums, and the guitarist does not fool around on the fret-board too much. An extremely commendable first effort from this four piece from Chicago. Agression, power…many bands talk of these things but Bludgeon actually deliver. In a time when many mallcore bands claim to be heavy and aggressive it is delightful to hear the real thing wrapped in band that crosses heavy genres with ease. Check out the band at http://www.bludgeon.tv.