Utterly and irrevocably despondent, the Polish sludge metal group 71TonMan capture earth-wrackingly intense malaise on their new, three-track release, War Is Peace // Peace Is Slavery.
It’s the sound of the knowledge that centuries upon centuries of human existence — including some of its most dismal, devastating components — have been set in motion beyond the control of just about anyone who might be expected to come in contact with the music of 71TonMan. The music communicates a cloud of doom, made real — it encapsulates the sense that the experiences of destruction playing out before humankind are doing so on an unchanging loop. It’s maniacally menacing, physically forceful, and essentially relentless, even through the blustery noise track that closes the release. Once arriving at the end, though less physically taxing, there’s a feeling of looking out across an expanse of staggeringly broad devastation.
71TonMan perform sludge metal in a somewhat straightforward sense, although it’s no less riveting for its relative accessibility. The riffs are monstrous, crashing to earth like magnificently brutal tidal waves, and the listening atmosphere created by this musical pummeling feels truly incinerating.
The group often performs at brisker-than-funeral doom speeds, and “Peace Is Slavery” — the release’s second track — breaks out into a musical gallop from its very beginning. Within that track, the riffs seem to somehow leap over one another at a blistering pace, cultivating a sense that the very bonds of reality have somehow suddenly found themselves dissolved in a gray-ish haze as the music builds into a blur. “War is peace,” after all — the frenzy of the music powerfully captures the psychological turmoil that accompanies the real-world experiences of unrest that seem reflected by the music of 71TonMan.
Overall, the music feels quite stately. It’s expansive, and grandiose, which adds an air of scathing certainty to the annihilation hearkened to within the record. Essentially, there’s no escaping it. The steady, forward push and the sense of physical thickness within the album’s textures solidify this experience of menace seeping right into the psyche.
Moving through the release could be compared to struggling to stay above water while trapped in a stormy sea — or, to use the the metaphors upon which the album relies, listening to War Is Peace // Peace Is Slavery could be compared to struggling to breathe as smoke builds across a battlefield. As time goes on, you end up crumpled on the ground, coughing — and perhaps that itself would most accurately describe the final track. Although there are hints of demented bliss in the nihilism suggested by the music — it is exhilarating, after all — there’s no triumph. Instead, it’s just crushing, so you’re left looking out across scenes of defeat and loss from a vantage point in the dirt.
War Is Peace // Peace Is Slavery is available now from Transcending Obscurity Records.