Album: Singularity to Extinction
Label: Tankcrimes Records
Genre: Sludge Metal
Release Date: October 19, 2018
Sludge legends, Brainoil, are back again after seven or so years of release drought. Starting initially as a solo project under the name MrBrainoil, what is now known as Brainoil has evolved into a hard-hitting, heavy and utterly filthy sludge metal outfit. The Oakland based powerhouse trio blends hardcore with sludge and death metal, delivering to us some of the best music that the genre has to offer. This new release, Singularity to Extinction, is really no exception. An entity that never moves too quickly in their music, Brainoil gives us a crunching and punishing record that does not disappoint in the ways that many long-awaited records often do. In my opinion, after any long pause in production, bands seem to lose their edge or whatever it was that made them great in the first place. (I’m looking at you EHG.) This is the band’s MO though. The time between the S/T debut and the sophomore follow up, Death of This Dry Season, was eight years. This means that the band takes years to write, record and deliver albums that are consistently good. It’s wrong to characterize this as a comeback record or a reunited band. It’s just, quite simply, their third release. Sure, it has been seven years, but nevermind, these guys were touring and developing a record in those years between the second and this third album – never giving them an opportunity to lose the impressive energy and menacing sound that makes them one of the best.
Brainoil brings out some the heaviest riffs and most dynamic vocal performances right from the get-go on this record. “Preface to Madness” is an immediate introduction to the dominating force behind these tracks, and that makes this, of course, a crushingly heavy opening track with punching, bass-heavy riffs and a display of the vocal range that Brainoil offers, hitting the deepest of growls mixed with hissing screams. A definite highlight track on the album is “The Spectre’s Vile Hand (The Shock Doctrine)”, the third track – a blistering and breakneck-paced track (breakneck for Brainoil). The growling we hear on this cut is so guttural, and it elicits a feeling of unease only upended by a moment of relief when the higher pitched, wrenching screams come back into the mix, only to do it to you all over again. The repetitive riffs and circular structure triggers a head-spinning whirl of noise that leaves you feeling trapped in rung out chords that seem endless. Another track that has been available to listen to awhile on some platforms, “Blank Static Void” is another standout, a track that showcases Brainoil’s use of odd time signatures in their music. When I first heard the track a while back, I felt reassured that Singularity… was going to be just as grimy and just as hostile as all the previous material.
There are some groovier aspects to Brainoil that show up pretty consistently on their earlier releases that are more typical of old-school sludge bands, but Singularity to Extinction seems to be lacking this grooviness bringing about a more straight-forward and heavy hardcore, sludgy death metal vibe to the whole thing. Altogether, this record feels like a consistent and cohesive record that gives one a sense of relief for sticking it out to the end – in a good way. It isn’t a release that overstays its welcome, but it does demand a sort of masochism that only the toughest of us metal listeners endure.
Brainoil, of course, delivers. With such long intervals between their releases, it continues to amaze me that they hit just what I’m looking for, every single time. They didn’t lose an ounce of intensity in the last seven years. They have continued to grow and have developed a stronger and more menacing sound that was an utter relief. The worst part about Singularity to Extinction is that it might be another seven years before we get something new from Brainoil, and I’m betting they will fall back into obscurity only to surprise us all over again with the heavy record we will be searching desperately for.
1. Preface To Madness
2. Corrosive Ribbons Of Light
3. The Spectre’s Vile Hand (The Shock Doctrine)
4. Singularity To Extinction
5. Blank Static Void
6. Recursion Abyss
7. Halcyon Desolation
Total Playing Time: 27:31
Brainoil are on tour now in Japan and their music can be purchased at the following link: