Aquilonian and Sollubi: Two Great Heavy Flavors, One Very Packed Disc

Posted in Reviews on April 27th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Notable apart from its hour-plus length for being the first recorded output of the post-Bongzilla project Aquilonian, who’ve been threatening for a while now with MySpace samples and teases of the like, this split CD between them and Ohio sludge demons Sollubi (whose previous At War with Decency full-length might just have been victorious in its conflict) is two tracks — one from each band, each over a half-hour long — that seems to create an economy all its own. If you’ve ever thought of buying music in terms of “bang for your buck,” I fail to see a better option than getting two short LP-length offerings from these bands. Most splits feel like throwaway tracks. This feels like home.

Aquilonian go first, which given the built-in interest that will no doubt lead many to check out this split is only proper. The duo of guitarist/vocalist Michael Makela and drummer/vocalist Michael Henry (though neither is particularly busy in the vocal department) have composed “Symphonica de Levita” for the occasion, and with it they put on a master class in how to transpose a groove on top of repetitive riffing. Anyone expecting Bongzilla-type grime will be surprised to find Aquilonian residing in a different, less sludge-laden niche, as though all the stoner in the band was distilled to its essential weedian elements. “Symphonica de Levita” reminds heavily of Sleep’s Holy Mountain, but even more than Makela’s tone or vocals, it’s the drum work of Henry that provokes the association. The ready snare taps that Chris Hakius used to make the best material on that album as memorable as it is, Henry seems apt to employ here, and it works to similar effect. The simplicity of their groove is essential, and even when the track breaks down at about 24 minutes in, it is all the more satisfying when it picks up again to finish with some of its most active guitar/drum interplay.

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Sollubi Go to War, Bring Wizard Just in Case

Posted in Reviews on June 25th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

The Wizard goes to war.Fact: if Sollubi are at war with it, I’m on their side. Even if it’s an intangible concept. I’d advise anyone who didn’t want to get their skull crushed under the force of high-grade disaffected sludge to align his or herself accordingly, sollubilogobecause the Pennsylvania/Ohio four-piece belch a 50+ minute, three song hatefest on their full-length debut, At War with Decency (Choking Hazard Records). Stark, drugged and clearly suffering some level of emotional trauma, Sollubi craft songs that, while long, retain their root anger, rather than lose their edge by making some lame attempt at being epic. Combined Eyehategod and Yob? Maybe, if the latter were less cosmic and the former much, much slower.

More than a darkened atmosphere, that on At War with Decency is dirty. Dirty and tired, and the music is an exhausted collapse after some epic relationship-killing argument. Emotionally unfulfilled. Pissed the fuck off. You hear it right away with guitarist Griff‘s frantic work on “In Violation,” which opens the record and is both the fastest and shortest track at 4:34. If “sludge” hadn’t been chosen to describe this kind of music, I’d cast my vote for “grime.” It sounds like there’s a film on my speakers, like grease-covered windows.

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