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They might be a far cry from the bayou itself, but Italy's Graveyhard can easily submerge you into the swamps of Louisiana with a thick, NOLA-harkening brew of sludge and doom that's been poured out of a cement mixer to fill up your ears. We're streaming their third album Pathbuilder now in full:

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As soon as the first big riff in "Burn Forever" hits you, it's over -- underneath each riff's ooze there's a stately evil, a darkly majestic twist that injects mysticism into the groove. It's irresistible, honestly, like a blanket of oblivion that's laced with heavy metal's most effective opiate: thought-destroying fuzz.

Taking New Orleans' classic strain of abrasive, bluesy sludge and adding some of their own vileness on top, Pathbuilder might first evoke thoughts of genre stalwart Down, as the onslaught of muscular riffs is similarly overwhelming and the tones equally brawny. A little ways down the road, however, less-direct post-metal structures introduce themselves, tempering the barrage before it wears itself out and opening an avenue for further pulverizing. The penultimate "Winter" mainlines the band's voodoo into a ballad, almost, which sets up the closer "Chainsaw" for a swift ambush by d-beats to wrap up the album with violent haste.

Both of these approaches coexist in harmony, though, neither feeling out of character for the album, and I'd wager that's because Graveyhard hasn't pinned their appeal on a specific speed or tactic. Rather, the furious drive at the heart of the sound is the linchpin, and the numerous textures employed to express it are just variations on a theme, indelibly linked by the rattle and crunch of pure, unadulterated sludge.

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Pathbuilder releases April 17th via Argonauta Records.

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