Listen to the heavy-as-fuck debut EP from Ara
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Our list of the best Milwaukee albums of 2012 is scheduled to go live in a few weeks, but before that, it might be a good time to revisit one of the best Milwaukee albums of 2011. Clandestine Abuse, by sludge-metal outfit Northless, was certainly one of the heaviest albums of last year, a record “so overblown, so dense, and so thick with noise that it’s a wonder it can be sussed out by human ears.” Expertly produced by Howl Street Recordings’ Shane Hochstetler, Clandestine Abuse was not only a high-water mark for Northless, but one for Milwaukee’s festering, semi-underground metal scene as a whole.
But what has Northless done for us lately? A couple of members have formed a new band, Ara, and have just released a heavy-as-fuck debut EP, that’s what. Featuring Northless singer/guitarist Erik Stenglein and bassist Jerry Hauppa, the five-song The Blessed Sleep shares many of Clandestine Abuse’s best traits—pummeling drums, guttural monster vocals, production from Hochstetler—but wraps them in a slightly slicker, more melodic package. The key word here is “slightly”—this is still straight-up, non-ironic doom metal, and not for everyone. But if you’re the type of person who salivates at lyrics like “Speaking in ancient tongues, the blind whisper the truth / Craving that which cannot be obtained, waking life forevermore,” you’re in for a ear-splitting treat.