Tremendous low-end, muscular grooves, potent melodies, dissonance and angularity all blend seamlessly on The Ditch and the Delta‘s first full-length recording, Hives in Decline.
Picking up where 2015’s We Rust left off, Hives in Decline shows the Salt Lake City trio continuing to refine and expand upon their unique, concussive sound. The seven-track, 35-minute release flirts with a myriad of different styles while remaining firmly rooted in sludge. Listeners will expect hammering grooves and sprawling gloom, but be taken aback by the band’s utilization of noise rock abrasiveness, off-time rhythms, jagged guitar riffs and the subtle progressive flair. With its singular, eclectic sound and its defiance of genre convention, Hives in Decline shapes up to be one of the more memorable sludge releases in recent memory.
After about 90 seconds of droning atmosphere and guitar-generated groans, the album officially brings the hammer down with its bludgeoning title track. Bellowing, drop-tuned guitars churn out galloping, off-kilter riffs rife with piercing harmonics and jarring rhythmic shifts, while the drumming and bass work deal out their own rhythmic thunder. Post-metal sprawls, throbbing bass leads and melodic angularity weave in-and-out between the song’s math metal dirges, always keeping the listener on their toes. The songs on Hives in Decline go through multiple evolutions throughout the album, so the listener should expect the unexpected.
“Fuck on Asphalt” comes storming in next with a stampede of melodic stoner instrumentation that sidesteps traditional stoner metal cliches by incorporating heavy metal swagger, seismic doom and plenty of triumphant-sounding solo work. This wealth of melodic fervor is contrasted heavily with the grumpy lurch of “Sleeping Dogs”. This menacing beast of a track unleashes a deadly barrage of angular crawls, erratic grooves and plenty of earsplitting dissonance. If Keelhaul or Coalesce decided to take things slower and lower, “Sleeping Dogs” would be the result.
This “math-meets-sludge” approach continues in songs like “Till Body Quits”, whose opening riffs rely upon dissonant, noisy chords and semi-spastic rhythms. But like previously-mentioned, the songs on Hives in Decline refuse to stay in one place for long, and “Till Body Quits” is no exception. The opening chaotic onslaught seamlessly bleeds into chugging sludge mayhem and further into a brooding, melancholic bridge before returning to its noisy beginnings.
Whether it be bludgeoning beatdown of its title track, the mathy madness of “Till Body Quits”, the tinges of atmospheric, Swans-esque blues in “Dread Spectacle”, or the melodic proggy flair touched upon in “Mud”, Hives in Decline offers a lot of a variety and standout moments while staying true to its sludge roots. The Ditch and the Delta stray far from the pack and craft a singular sound and vision that other sludge acts can learn from.
Release Date: May 12, 2017
Label: Battleground Records
Favorite Tracks: “Hives in Decline”, “Sleeping Dogs”, “Till Body Quits” and “Dread Spectacle”
For Fans Of: Keelhaul, Kowloon Walled City and Abrams