Druglord Feed the Misery, Smell the Disease and Lick the Wound on Their First Demo

The presumably self-titled demo from Richmond, Virginia, stoner doomers Druglord – aptly named for the sonic haze they create – contains just about no info regarding its origins or those who made it. Literally on the inside of the cover, it has the band’s name, the list of the three tracks, and “Recorded in Room 13 September 2010.” What that recording entailed, who helmed it or where Room 13 might be (probably in Richmond, but you never know) is anyone’s best guess. This might seem like an annoyance, but screw it, in this age of instant connectivity with artists, via social networking, Twitter and the like, it’s kind of fun not knowing how Druglord’s demo was made. Until I searched out their Facebook page, I didn’t even know how many people were in the band or where they were from. I only had the music to go by, and every now and then, I think that’s refreshing.

To sum the 13-minute, self-released demo up in one word: Stoned. Guitarist/vocalist Tommy (Druglord is on a first name basis) has a dank level of distortion on his guitar, crudely captured on lumbering Druglord opener “Smell Your Disease” and thickened – as if such a thing was possible – by Greta’s earthquake, mix-engulfing bass. If you’ve ever listened to Bongzilla, you know the kind of bass I’m talking about. Tommy’s vocals are a drawl, not screamed or shouted, delivered clean, but with that ‘90s-style drugged-out fuck-all that so few can pull off at this point. “Smell Your Disease” handles its evil groove well, and though Bobby is credited on their site (again, nobody’s credited with anything on the disc itself), I’d have sworn Tommy and Greta were backed by a drum machine. It’s demo production, but I’ll be damned if the ultra-fuzz on Tommy’s drawn-out leads isn’t charm put to tape.

“Smell Your Disease” kind of falls apart, leading into the faster, more active “Misery Feeder.” The intro of the song (the first 35 seconds) feel like they’re referencing something, but I can’t put my finger on it. For what it’s worth, the rest of the song sounds like Entombed delivered via Relentless-era Pentagram, a dose of Sunlight Studios riffage still distinct through the cloud of smoke around Tommy’s guitar. I thought the song was a cover the first time I heard it, and I’m still not entirely convinced it isn’t, but whoever it belonged to first, Druglord have no trouble making it their own, caking on the aural moss and stonerly feel while also avoiding the issue of how to end the song – which seemed a stumbling block on “Smell Your Disease” – by abruptly cutting it off at 2:54, nearly a full two minutes shorter than the opening track and almost three shorter than the closer, “Lick the Wound.”

The thickness of Greta’s and Tommy’s tones is not to be understated. It’s a big part of what makes Druglord’s demo work so well, and on “Lick the Wound,” it comes across even more than on the opener or “Misery Feeder.” The track is laborious, plodding, doomly slow and powerfully executed. More “doom stoner” than “stoner doom,” and though from the cover art, the band’s moniker and the song titles, I expected Eyehategod-style sludge and abrasive hardcore influences, I find that with Druglord, I’m glad it didn’t turn out that way. Certainly Richmond isn’t short on sludge bands, and if this is just the beginning for this trio of players, they should have no trouble distinguishing themselves among the vibrant scene in which they dwell. Druglord don’t innovate, exactly, but they’re different (and dirty) enough to be distinct, and their first demo has all the elements of a killer starting point. Don’t ask too much of it, just nod and enjoy.

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