You could be forgiven for thinking that French sludge quartet, Averysadstory, broke up after 2015’s Tools of Death album. A handful of live shows in 2018 and 2019 supporting Karma to Burn, Crowbar and Mercyless kept the locals happy, but fans only discovered a new album in the works last year when they posted a picture of their progress in the recording studio. The line up appears to be intact, and the beards are a bit longer, but the riffs flow like wine on Old Dark Memories. It’s like they never went into hibernation.
Your mind thinks of Crowbar and Down when you encounter a sludge record. Melvins are too strange to be the first name on your lips. Clutch and Acid Bath remind you that rock bands are also partial to the heavier dynamics of the sub-genre. You could argue that Averysadstory encompass most of this spectrum in their sound. Opener, ‘Stay Away’, uses bass-heavy staccato shapes with monstrous guitar bleed in between the gaps. The distorted bass growls like the stomach of a prisoner on hunger strike. This music is gritty and masculine, like a hard day’s work with the alcohol-induced tremors from yesterday evening still haunting your movements. Yet the drop-tuned guitars are as menacing as an avalanche. You might even hear the mid-1990s stride of Corrosion of Conformity in ‘Hellemental’. A surprise melody brightens the lens of the chorus as the guitars unite in a harmony and allow the bass to carry the low-end. The faster middle eight is what Metallica hoped to achieve on St Anger, but we’ll not go down that rabbit hole…
Aversadstory create the illusion that they write music for hangovers. This is not true. Sometimes, the structures hint at a pop sensibility, but ‘Beach Boys Song’ and ‘The Pagan Fire’ are too heavy for radio and too sluggish for those with a short attention span. But listen to them with microscopic analysis and you’ll hear a sophisticated blend of melody and noise. The former is like Therapy? but with gruff vocals and manly roars in the syncopated chorus. You’ll detect a Down on the Upside-era Soundgarden presence to the latter. This how grunge should have evolved after 1994 – heavier, noisier, less restrained by the chorus delivery.
Of course, the riff is the king on this record, but the belting hardcore vocals deserve praise. ‘Structural’ and ‘Jesus 2001’ thrive on the combination of temple-throbbing roars and savage palm-muted rhythms. ‘Losing All’ is a down-tempo knuckleduster with mid-range guitar lines and a surprise acceleration of pace when you least expect it. There’s plenty of fodder for the mosh pit here, but it’s no party record. The album title makes it clear that the French quartet enjoy three things – liberty, alcohol, and limited fraternity. Add to these a liking for doom metal, stoner rock and the aching self-examination of hardcore, and you have a record to remind you that most relationships are temporary. People grow apart from each other. Certainties we used to know cannot be taken for granted, nor will mourning them help in the long run. Sludge metal is unsentimental in a realist kind of way.
Eight years away from the scene did no harm to Averysadstory. Their music can be as enlivening as a cold shower, yet it can also provoke you to banish the outside world and seek solace in the comfort of alcohol.
Release Date: 10/05/2023
Record Label: Fuck4abeer Productions
Standout tracks: Stay Away, Structural, Losing All
Suggested Further Listening: Horndal – Lake Drinker (2021), Crowbar – Zero and Below (2022), Treedeon – New World Hoarder (2023)