Hertfordshire duo, Dreadbeggar, finally release their debut EP after sitting on it for four years, and it’s full of nasty riff-fuelled guitars. This is sludge metal the old school way – raw, unpolished, down-tuned basslines, swampy guitar distortion, and harsh vocals. Dreadbeggar mean business.
Opener ‘Sludgefuck’ sets the scene with a groove-ladened blues riff guaranteed to inspire headbanging and monster-man drinking contests in one fell swoop. Listen closely, though, as it picks up the pace before slowing down into a doom riff reminiscent of Sleep and Electric Wizard. This is more cerebral than you think. Check out the psychedelic lead guitar towards the end. Where did that come from? ‘9mm Painkiller’ is a reworking of their 2018 single but with fewer tempo changes than ‘Sludgefuck’ and has more of an early Iron Monkey feel. It’s easily the most straight forward number on the EP at just over four and a half minutes, but you can see why it’s always a highlight of their live set.
By contrast, ‘The Scarring of Succubus’ is the longest composition on Sludgefuck Blues and starts with a slow grind of fuzz that High on Fire and Weedeater would be proud to own. The sample loop half-way through the track is just as impressive as the dirty groove. Make no mistake: when Dreadbeggar display their doom credentials, they sound as gnarly and chaotic as ever and never let their guard down.
Some of you will be more sceptical of the musical foundations of this record. Can the pentatonic blues offer anything new in modern metal? ‘Misery Reciprocated’ is a full-on southern metal assault with riffs that make you think of Trendkill era Pantera but with a thicker and more pernicious guitar tone. This is the kind of track that’ll whip any crowd into a fist-pumping frenzy. Who cares if originality is low down on the list of priorities?
Closing track, ‘Torment Addiction’, reaches for the old school Electric Wizard vibe with low death metal growls. The layered vocals and Buzzoven groove are too charming to dismiss as reductive. You should expect chest convulsions as the minimum consequence of listening to Dreadbeggar.
In all honesty, you’ll find a lot to enjoy here if you’re a fan of old school sludge. Fans of the genre’s more progressive bands like Horndal and Urne will be less enamoured, but anyone who’s into pentatonic groove metal ignores Dreadbeggar at their peril. These guys bring the blues but coat it in the slime of the delta river and contaminate it with the noxious air of a polluted shore.
Release Date: 12/10/2021
Record Label: Self Released
Standout tracks: 9mm Painkiller, The Scarring of Succubus
Suggested Further Listening: Weedeater – Good Luck and God Speed (2007), Iron Monkey – Our Problem (1998), High on Fire – The Art of Self Defence (2000)