Released: 2013, Southern Lord Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Though it’s been lauded as a sort of sludgedoom supergroup, the reality is that Lumbar is so much more than that. Yes, it features Yob’s Mike Scheidt. And yes, it also features Tad Doyle, from TAD and general awesomeness. But most importantly, it features Aaron Edge, whom you may recognize from bands like Himsa and Roareth, as well as his professional stint with Southern Lord Records. Earlier this year, Edge was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, an affliction which renders many of the basic physical functions that we take for granted either painfully unbearable or simply unachievable. Handling all of the writing and instruments on Lumbar’s debut, THE FIRST AND LAST DAYS OF UNWELCOME, Edge was able to complete the recording in the midst of coming to terms with his ailments and just prior to his official diagnosis, which shortly thereafter left him bedridden for forty days. Longtime friend and associate Scheidt was eventually brought into the proceedings to provide vocals on the album. Mutual friend and compatriot Doyle was the one and only choice to mix the album, and was also tapped to provide vocals across the album. The end result is a stark and painful album that attempts to convey the mental, physical, and emotional pain of Aaron Edge’s coming to terms with MS. THE FIRST AND LAST DAYS OF UNWELCOME is possibly the heaviest album you’ll hear all year.
THE FIRST AND LAST DAYS OF UNWELCOME is not an easy album to listen to. It’s not a toe tapper, it’s not a headbanger, it’s not a catchy chorus to sing along with. It’s a solemnly sludgy, noisy, uncomfortable album, which makes it all the more heavier an experience to partake in. At times, it sounds not too far removed from a Yob album, particularly with Scheidt’s nasally wail bellowing across the chug of bottom heavy riffs. Other times, it’s awash with feedback and atmospheric emptiness as Doyle’s snarl interweaves between the electronic resonances. The seven tracks that comprise the album are identified as individual days (“Day One”, “Day Two”, etc.) and illustrate the sort of progressive mental untangling that accompanies such a degenerative disease. At the beginning of the album, we’re seething with rage. By the end of the album, we’re wallowing in contemplation about what happened in between. It’s a remarkably personal album that I think will resonate with each listener on a uniquely different level.
The moniker Lumbar comes from the procedure(s) that ultimately diagnosed Edge, the lumbar puncture; a traumatically painful procedure that has the capacity to make the strongest of us meek and submissive. It’s a pity that such a powerful name and even more powerful resulting music had to be born from such honest suffering. There are some great Q & A’s w/ Edge via the Obelisk and No Clean Singing ‘zines that I’d recommend any curious parties to research, but above all else, I’d recommend checking out THE FIRST AND LAST DAYS OF UNWELCOME for your own ears. Added that this is likely to be the one and only release to come from this trio makes it a sort of bittersweet victory. THE FIRST AND LAST DAYS OF UNWELCOME is what doom truly sounds like.