13 are one of those bands that SERIOUSLY deserve the reissue compilation treatment, or at least to be more recognised and appreciated among those who like it low and slow.
That gets said by just about anyone who writes about them these days, so if everyone is calling out for it, why the fuck hasn't it happened yet? Baffling.
The way most people who weren't there first time around (I would have been about 5 when this was released!) hear about this band is probably through their guitarist, one Liz Buckingham.
After 13 disbanded, Liz did a stint in sludge bruisers Sourvein, before joining the second incarnation of Electric Wizard after their original rhythm section left to form Ramesses.
ANYWAY, that's how I first became aware of 13, and how I came to own this excellent little slab of sludge.
I'm pretty sure this is one of the original pressings from '93, it has GRIEF-003 etched into the vinyl's center, which makes me think it's the version released by Grievance Records, but if anyone could let me know for sure, I'd appreciate it!
Since 13 are the band that I'm rather obviously ranting about, their side is up first.
'Wither' opens their side with dry, rasping feedback, before a drumfill that sounds like 45 on 33 starts the song with a very literal bang. Alicia Morgan's voice was trailblazing, there really weren't many female sludge vocalists around back then. You can barely tell her guttural, feral growl is even human, never mind determine the gender.
It's backed by a simple but effective riff which is slightly uptempo for the genre, this is more groovey than painful. Just over a minute in and it mutates into a straight-ahead chug, the drums taking a back seat to the air-pushing power of the riff.
Three minutes in things change pace again to an even more relaxed groove, variations on a theme. Listening to this and knowing the type of stuff Liz would go on to write over a decade later, you can really hear just how much influence she's had on Electric Wizard since she started playing with them. This style of playing is unmistakably her own.
The track comes to a halt with a final snare hit, and fade to fuzzed out bliss.
'Plague' starts as a bass rumble, barely audible before the driving guitar plays for a couple bars, then things really kick off with all instruments really locking in together. Alicia's ruined throat tops the whole thing off, her vocal lines following the rest of the band perfectly.
A lot of sludge, especially these days, is too loose, unconsidered, with barely any thought given to making something you can almost dance to. Which may sound like I'm missing the point of the genre, that it's meant to be taken as needed for pain exclusively. But I like songs with my sludge, something you can bang your head to more than once a minute. Personal preference, I guess, and 13 play EXACTLY the brand of roaring, buzzing aural bleach with swing and swagger that I favour.
I'm basically just rambling about how much I dig this band instead of actually 'reviewing' the record, but to hell with it, just go download it, stream it somewhere, or if you can find a copy, buy it. Hopefully if enough people express interest in them, someone will actually release that compilation I mentioned earlier. 13 deserve it.
Grief's side features only one track, 'Falling Apart', and they perfectly exemplify the insufferably-slow side of the genre. Not that I mean that as a bad thing, I love it just as much for different reasons. When I've had the worst of days, Grief play the songs that accompany those days in my head. The crawling, painful sounds giving voice to wasted hours and thoughts I wish I didn't have.
I don't have much to say about this side as I was into this record for 13's tracks. Oh, did I mention that already?
Since their releases are nigh on impossible to track down in physical formats, go grab downloads from this great, comprehensive discography write-up