On the Radar: Old and Ill

Not everybody likes extreme sludge. Well I fucking do, so when a band like Old and Ill comes along with a demo like Live Slow Die Old, I want to take a little time out and mark the occasion. Taking cues alternately from High on Fire, Electric Wizard and croaking, lurching black metal, the three-piece got started in Las Cruces, New Mexico, in 2008 but relocated (as I’m told people do sometimes) to Austin, Texas, from which their abrasive, malevolent dirges now emanate.

The demo was released Sept. 27, and it’s a wash of bleary-eyed distortion, frustrated sway and molasses-thick doom. The 10-minute “House of Wax” lurches even when the pace “picks up,” and it’s not so much in any kind of witchy/culty way, but how Jamus Reichelt, Jason Joachim and Garrett T. Capps earn their Electric Wizard comparison is through the efficiency of their material and how much they squeeze out of classic grooves and — in the case of “House of Wax” particularly — a well-mixed lead that seems to scream out from the surrounding tonal murk. At about 35 minutes, Live Slow Die Old is vinyl-ready and loaded with stomp enough for two vinyl sides, its meatiness resonant through “House of Wax” and its fellow extended cut, the viscous 12:16 “Stag Hunt.”

Sandwiched on either side by the faster “Throat Feast” and “Public Universal Fiend,” the two longer tracks are a big part of the overall impression Live Slow Die Old makes, with doomed groove and growling vocals — something few bands do and even fewer do as well as Old and Ill — hitting home on “Stag Hunt” while the post-Chris Hakius drumming in the midsection only underscores the band’s righteous lineage and “let’s take this and do something else with it” ethic — admirable. It’s probably easy to point to other acts working in a similar vein (Cough come to mind, most immediately), since after a certain point if you play slow and scream, someone’s gonna come along and compare you to Eyehategod, but if this is Old and Ill‘s first outing, they’ve put the four years leading up to it to good use in finding individuality within established genre tropes.

It may not set them up for the most prolific career, but even the roughness in these tracks feeds the nastiness of the atmosphere and the production lets more than enough low end through to give a genuine sense of rumble. Misanthropic cave echoes only enhance the dismal tonal thickness, and I wouldn’t put it on at my next family BBQ, but Old and Ill‘s Live Slow Die Old demo serves its purpose in serving notice: These guys are fucking serious. I dig it.

And in that spirit, I share. Check out Old and Ill‘s Thee Facebooks page here for more info on them, or dive right into the stream below, courtesy of their Bandcamp:

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