Gloomy. That's Ultraphallus' sound in a nutshell. Sowberry Hagan doesn't shy away from this word, mixing equal parts sludge rock, drone, musique concrète and ambience. It sounds like a "chalk and cheese" type of situation, but believe you me, it's more of a "peas and carrots" thing.

Sowberry Hagan starts with two tracks that forebode the later half of the album. 'Pathological freemind verse' (!) is full-on atmosphere and 'Right models' goes a little punky, bleeding into 'River Jude', where a larynx seems to have been replaced by a distortion pedal daisy-chained to a green ringer. It all seems to be a short song affair, until it gets to track four.

Track four? 'Indians love rain'. I have no idea what the title refers to, but I can tell you straight of the bat that it's the best track on the album. It's not as experimental as 'Cinghiale', which sports a muddied sax solo buried deep in the mix, but it's a pretty good song that is unnerving and punchy, slow but not plodding.

It's obvious there is some sense of humour in this band, and they put a quick, blink-and-you-miss banjo solo (12 seconds) called 'The crumbled' before a pretty heavy song ('Golden fame'), that again uses a banjo as an extra brush in their palette of sound. Again, foreboding.

Ultraphallus seemed to save the best for last. Sowberry Hagan finishes with a rope-a-dope, called 'The Red Print' and 'Torches of freedom'. The first is an unsettling slow-burner heavily seasoned with strange noises (sounds like a distorted sample of someone crying), a bassy synth and a very anguished voice, delivered by Eugene Robinson (from Oxbow, a legendary noise band from San Francisco).

'Torches of freedom' forgoes any vocals and just lets the instruments do the talking. The droning sounds, the distorted speech samples and the general mixing of the song makes it a perfect album closer. It could easily be the soundtrack of the ending cutscene of a videogame, the one where everything is revealed and the twists come to pull the carpet below your feet. I personally feel like I'm watching the cool ending for Diablo 2, but your experience might vary.

Muddy, heavy and a little paranoiac, Sowberry Hagan gladly will swagger its sludge genre gold star everywhere it goes. If you like ominous, stark music, check it out. Be sure to use to use some good headphones, as there a lot of stuff going here that adds to the atmosphere (creepy voices, found sounds) and it can be lost in the cheaper sets of earbuds.

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