Just a couple of days prior to the release of “Calving“, the debut record from self-proclaimed “desperation sludge” band CLASS TRAITOR, Crucible label and the band join us today for a special premiere of their new gloomy track “Adversarial”, and a special commentary about the content behind this fierce offering. For an extra flavour, the band’s vocalist Eric shared his special list of powerful and “disorienting” records carrying both important message and impressive, influential soundscapes and sonic narratives.
Calving – a liberation through despondence is presented on classic black vinyl as a 12” EP, limited to 200 copies, to be released on December 10th.
Desperation Sludge from members of Munt, Bøg, Religious Observance & Beggar, operating on Wurundjeri land, Class Traitor tore through the tension that had been building over Melbourne’s plagued year that was 2020. From their live debut; sold out, back to back shows at Melbourne’s revered “The Tote” in January of 2021, Class Traitor have demanded attention from audiences emerging from isolation, with an astounding display of raw, emotional intensity. This brutal yet beautiful, fierce yet fragile delivery is brilliantly captured with Calving, recorded live, in the mountains of the Dandenong Ranges amidst Victoria’s lockdowns. A truly captivating, visceral debut recorded performance, at a level of confidence normally reserved for bands years into their lifespan.
On their first record Calving, Class Traitor is dealing with social disconnection, isolation, and getting ground into meat and dust within a bureaucratic, failing machine-world. Our first impression of Class Traitor, water cascades in the distance as reverie-inducing guitar patiently emerges from the aether of feedback. What follows is a unique, unapologetic and brutally honest display of heavy music, with the obvious genre tags of sludge and post-metal not quite grasping the whole picture. Continuing down the path laid out by the opener, each track maintains a vice grip of intensity on the listener, perfectly sequenced, ”Spaceless” and ”Painful” ebb and flow between patient despair and seething anguish, each push and pull shaking the listener as we build to the instant-classic finalé, ”Adversarial”. The track is streaming through our exclusive airing below:
CLASS TRAITOR is: Sol Laskowski – Guitar, Ronnie Dixon – Bass, Andrea Daniel – Drums, Eric Stone – Vocals
“For me a lot of the themes on our EP boil down to a search for missing connections.” – comments Eric.
“Loss of connection with others, past and present self have caused fractures that lead to these situations and stories. Harnessing the most destructive and damaged parts of our being and pushing that out into the world. Lack of connection creates a yearning, which builds into an urgent need to take action. The action might be wildly destructive, or beautifully creative, or to curl up in a ball, or all of the above.”
𝑂𝑢𝑟 𝑠𝑝𝑒𝑐𝑖𝑒𝑠 𝑖𝑠 𝑑𝑟𝑎𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑦 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑛𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑒𝑑 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑤𝑒’𝑣𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑒 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑤𝑒’𝑟𝑒 𝑔𝑜𝑖𝑛𝑔. 𝐼𝑛𝑑𝑖𝑔𝑒𝑛𝑜𝑢𝑠 𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑠𝑝𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑠 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑐𝑢𝑡 𝑑𝑜𝑤𝑛. 𝐸𝑐𝑜𝑙𝑜𝑔𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙 𝑐𝑜𝑙𝑙𝑎𝑝𝑠𝑒 𝑖𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑛𝑜𝑟𝑚.
Asked about his top picks for other artists and album inspirations that might lead him to more creative experiments, he continued: “Sometimes the most hopeless sounding records are what I need to hear. These are some of the more powerful / disorienting records that I’ve been listening to leading up to the forming of the band, playing our first shows and making our first release. They all contain elements I’m also trying to express as I’ve recognised them in myself.”
Sol, the band’s guitarist, adds: “Class Traitor is an aesthetically collaborative band, in the sense that any emotive or artistic effect is a result of all the members working in a collective. I don’t think it would have been possible for me to write the riffs in Glass Heart unless I knew the emotional urgency and intensity that Eric’s vocals would bring to it. There is a jumbled folder of song corpses somewhere that is testament to the time it took to really understand what writing heavy music meant to us, not as individuals, but as an amalgamation of our collective influences.”
“I think that’s what I think Calving is, the first few songs that really felt *right* for us. Below is some music that influenced me, before, during and after recording Calving.”
Bone – For Want of Feeling
Stark, lifeless post-punk from a little-known but brilliant australian band that seems to have eventually folded or just run out of batteries. Maybe they still exist in some form. I really think this record in particular deserves more attention. Some members have gone on to other great bands – Gold Class, for example.
Bone were clearly mining for something unique on their first EP Face Prison but with this, their second record, it’s evident they struck something very dusty and dry. Maybe they struck nothing at all, as they do seem a bit disappointed. The half-audible lyrics in songs like Bath Time possibly give a clue, or not. In any case the result here is all edging, all tension, with no pay-off or reprieve.
Towards the end, the brightly burning riffs and vocal punk energy in Moot offer up a spark of hope and humanity, which flickers for a short while, ending abruptly before you really have a chance to grasp it. But it was there, which somehow seems important.
Black Sheep Wall – I’m going to kill myself
From interviews, this is the record where BSW tried their hardest to alienate everyone including themselves and their fans by making the whole thing a kind of ordeal. Jokes on them – they ended up making one of the most triumphant and enigmatic heavy records of the century. I especially love Metallica which by their own account was the most pointlessly gruelling thing they could physically manage at the time. The vocals stand out as more unrefined and limited in range than their other releases and for me that constrained delivery actually helps make this album so good.
Remote viewing – It’s Better This Way
Remote Viewing isn’t the only band doing this kind of thing, but they’re one of the best. The guts of this record is blown-out sludgy noise-rock, but it’s peppered with some really heartbroken and despondent parts – it’s those moments of crushed regret that push it beyond just a great noise-rock record for me.
I love bands that aren’t afraid to push the distorted desperation in the vocals way beyond what’s reasonable, and just keep it there. The guy sounds like he means it. The combo of grizzled sludge riffs, disappointed melodies and actual pain builds a feeling that sticks around in your frame long after the record ends.
Uboa – Coma Wall
If you like climbing, well here is is a mountain of burning hopes and scathing noise, leaking illness and destructive energy all the way up. The view from the top is bleak. It’s briefly calmer as you clamber down the other side, then suddenly a more focussed kind of rage appears, and almost physically takes hold of you and pushes you down, down, down.
Not much else to say – it’s the heaviest record I’ve ever heard, an unwavering monument to pain – and a once-a-year kind of thing for me.
Cloud Rat – split with Disrotted
The heart of Cloud Rat is savage and disorienting grind, with pulses of post hardcore guitar and drum work. Over the years they’ve thrown in heapings of doom, shoegaze, electronic and post-punk and its the ability to mix in all of these elements equally well that make them simply one if the best and most dynamic bands out there.
For this list I picked Holding the Picture, their sole track off the 2017 split with Disrotted, because it contains almost all of these components over one long, devastating song (though the blasting grind takes more of a back-seat on this one). There’s a very special energy in this band and it’s got nothing to do with the ‘tough’ posturing which you can easily find elsewhere in grind and hardcore if you want. A big part of that energy is down to the sincerely distraught and seething rage in Madison’s vocals, which are deeply and permanently connected to Rorik’s winding guitar. This unbreakable connection to the riff is also very apparent in Brandons drumming on this song, which grinds along like a pneumatic drill when required, but deftly switches to match wherever the riffs lead.
Moreso than most others, this band comes across as one writhing, unpredictable organism – wounded and cornered but fighting back with everything they’ve got.
The Mire – Glass Cathedrals
This was the very first album that I purchased on Bandcamp. Looking back I think this band and Textures were my link from tech-death into more emotive mid-tempo *feeling* based music. Glass Cathedrals was certainly the most compelling example of anything “post-metal” that I had heard up until this point.
Rhythmic complexity, useful dissonance and patience are the hallmarks of this record. It hits you not because it hits hard but because it hits *purposefully*.
Keeper – MMXIV
Extremes in art can lead to cul de sacs, creative dead ends where the pursuit of the goal eclipses any nuance. This album was the first really wretchedly heavy sludge record that totally outstripped anything I’d heard before in terms of heaviness, but still features excellent song writing and mood. Feels like trying to apologise to all the people you hurt and let down while being sucked into surf that you really should have known wasn’t safe.
Uboa and Bolt Gun – Uboa and Bolt Gun
Two of my favourite Australian acts collaborating on what may be the best work by each of them. Ambient doom drone harsh noise black metal and spoken word all coexist seamlessly because this is music as expression before it is anything else. Brutally succinct, each track is a self-contained statement that is amplified by the other. A perfect starting point to exploring the back catalogue of two of Australia’s most forward thinking heavy artists.
Well – Trench Dancer
Effortlessly well executed combination of jangly noise rock and brusque, energetic sludge. These guys are super underrated and probably the Melbourne band I am most looking forward to playing with in future.
Farer – Monad
I didn’t discover this album until well after recording for Calving was finished, but since then it’s become my most listened to record of 2021. Monad sucks you in and keeps you in a constant state of tension for the entire record, only giving you release on the final track and even that is an agonisingly drawn out trudge into emptiness. The dynamic control of these songs is masterful, the vocal performance is wrenchingly raw, the drumming is simultaneously creative and restrained, even the layers of noise that break the ebb and flow of the music are some of the most interesting and functional that I’ve heard on a metal release. My album of the year.