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Music Review: haarp – The Filth

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Grotesque, insistent sludge covers the stomping grounds of New Orleans’ haarp.

The band starts with the growl of Shaun Emmons of rat in a bucket. Drummer Keith Sierra Jr. is also from rat in a bucket, while bassist Ryan Pomes comes from Milktoast and guitarist Grant Tom played in De Capa Preta.

The story behind the band’s development is an interesting one. In August of 2005, rat in a bucket and De Capa Preta were set to play a gig in the heart of New Orleans at the now-defunct Dixie Taverne. The threat of Hurricane Katrina led to the cancellation of the show, however, and the bands scattered due to subsequent member departures and the like. After a “meeting of the minds” of sorts, members of those bands formulated a new plan for New Orleans metal and haarp was born.

The attack of haarp is mid-tempo, representing a shift in style and pace from the former bands.

The debut record, The Filth, comes with Phil Anselmo’s stamp of approval. The album is out now on his Housecore label and comes soaked in gallons of deep, low, sinister goodness.

haarp manages the sort of relentless metal attack that many bands only dream of. At times, the force of their sludge is a little too much to bear and a break is in order. Once the listener punches back in, however, The Filth has plenty of skull-crushing flavour to chew on. Featuring nine songs of deliberate force, this is a record of challenge and confidence.

“The Rise, The Fall” opens the album with a cavernous set of crunching, purposeful riffs. “It’s me…again,” roars Emmons from some sort of torture chamber. It’s a vicious, haunting introduction that’ll stick in the brain matter for a while. As the song chugs along, it’s hard to imagine Emmons escaping his doom. It’s hard to imagine him wanting to.

The majority of the tracks toy with or exceed the eight-minute mark, testing mettle with a series of gut-churning riffs and a growling, painful vocal performance from Emmons. “The Blue Chamber Painted Red” calls to mind visions of hell, while the dark, droning “Peerless” threatens to shatter the speakers with its ridiculous low end.

If The Filth has a low point, it’s that it ventures on the repetitive side. But torture is nothing if not a constant battery of pain and suffering, so haarp’s delectable mission may be complete after all.

About Jordan Richardson