The sight of people pretending not to wince as the four members of Praetorian blast out the ugliest grinding sludge metal known to man is priceless, or £8 to be exact, if we count the door fee for watching them tear up Hitchin’s Club 85. As a finalist at the recent Metal 2 the Masses competition, the Hertfordshire quartet are the closest thing to a grindcore band in the home counties and easily the most extreme. They return with a new three-track EP for the first time since 2019’s Knee Deep in Detritus, and they’re even heavier than you remember them. You’d not want to stumble underneath the belly of this white rhino on your next safari adventure. A Deluge of Bad Faith is where you go to have your dreams crushed. It ain’t pretty.
The jangly guitar notes at the beginning of ‘Self-Denied Fear’ give new meaning to the term “false sense of security”, although you’re never secure listening to Praetorian. You know it’s only a prelude to a more wretched occurrence, yet in this case guitarist, Mark Wilkie, utilises a space doom effect that will invite you to contemplate a post-metal version of Voivod. If you’re not laughing at the absurdity of the palm-muted crunches and floor-shaking bass tones, it’s because you’re too scared to snigger. The decibel levels here are hazardous. Five minutes of this kind of vicious doom metal would be most welcome, but Tom Clements’ high-pitched roar signals a switch to a fuzz-heavy punk attack at the approach of two minutes. This is the signature Praetorian sound – mean, unmelodious, unhinged. The great wall of electricity that ignites their music could blow out the National Grid.
‘Orgone Conclusion’ is an unusual proposition. Imagine Celtic Frost from the Morbid Tales era covering ‘Teenage Kicks’ by The Undertones. Slow-grooving downstrokes give way to a new modulation of death-grind violence thanks to the might of drummer, Andrew Bisgrove. The latent complexity of its structure is the song’s best asset. This is far too brutal for doom metal. Sludge bands don’t pulsate like this, either. A lot of the credit must go to Tom Clement for injecting a hysterical black metal shriek into the audio assault. Likewise, Mark Wilkie’s guitar tone is monstrous, like listening to Crowbar in a space suit with an oxygen mask and a helmet that prevents any type of lateral movement of the head. They even include a grotesque breakdown of sorts and reset to a chugging bass groove for the last push at the end.
Closing track, ‘Ode to a Drunk Driver’, will be familiar to anyone that saw the band support Brazilian death metal legends, Nervochaos, in Bristol earlier this year. The coordination between spacey doom guitars and Richard Stevenson’s rumbling bass notes gives this one a different feel to the others. Even the switch to a low-end sludge attack sounds more vengeful amid the subtle tempo changes and boiling rage. There’s nothing predictable about this song, but you’ll enjoy the way Mark Wilkie’s chord choices threaten to derail it any moment. Can you find that point where the hop of the riff feels the full force of Bisgrove’s drumsticks? Yes, of course, you can.
Praetorian are more than just noise merchants aiming to be the nastiest band in the sludge-grind scene. They keep you guessing, even when you know the killer blow is never far away. A Deluge of Bad Faith will invite nervous laughter and macabre delight in equal measures.
Release Date: 29/07/2022
Record Label: Self Released
Standout track: Self Denied Fear
Suggested Further Listening: Mastiff – Leave Me the Ashes of the Earth (2021), Directional – Invasive (2022), Cult Burial – Oblivion EP (2021)