71TonMan – Of End Times Review

Hailing from Wrocław, Poland, five-piece 71TonMan got me wondering, just how heavy would a human weighing 71 tons be? Leaving to one side the various questions around tons/tonnes and short tons (US) / long tonnes (UK) / metric tons/tonnes,1 there is no doubt it would be … significant. Starting ‘small’, a 71TonMan is roughly equal to ten adult tyrannosaurus rex; seven minke whales; moving to my own favored species, two megalodons; or one Leopard 2 tank, of the type recently pledged by Poland, Germany and others to Ukraine. And this seems appropriate, as a sizeable, if ponderous, battle tank is a pretty good comparator for this doom/sludge outfit. Their last record, 2017’s Earthwreck, was an hour’s worth of rumbling, planet-shaking sludge, lifted by occasional forays into melodic death doom riffs (“Negative”). Now back with third full-length, Of End Times, will 71TonMan still take route one, an all-out, full frontal assault?

Arrayed over 39 minutes, 71TonMan deploys its troops riffs across just four tracks. Mainly holding territory at the slow, funeral doom end of the sludge spectrum (as opposed to the hardcore adjacent areas), Of End Times is abrasive. Mesmerizingly slow, characterized by huge, distended guitars, sonorous, lethargic drum rolls, 71TonMan crawls forward, as vocalist K.K.’s cavernous roar bellows out across the ravaged landscape. However, what sets this record slightly apart from the likes of a Body Void, are the shifts in tempo. Showcasing this best are the back third of “Plague” and the first half of the album’s closing track, “Famine”. Shifting up through the gears, 71TonMan moves rapidly from a painstaking crawl to brisk trot—a sprint this is not—and the attendant rise in heart rate brings with it a small injection of melody. In these passages, the drums set a steady, almost hypnotic undercurrent, while the guitars take on a percussive quality, laced with a tremolo-like melodic quality that hints at a blackened edge to the sound.

71TonMan combines the unsettling, reverberating horror of Primitive Man’s Immersion with Warcrab’s bloodcurdling brand of sludge, and just a hint of Crowbar’s distorted, bludgeoning fury. It’s a mix that works very well, particularly over the (relatively) short runtime. Had Of End Times tortuously played out over an hour or so, much of its cataclysmic impact would have been lost, as often happens at this doom/sludge intersection. However, even where 71ManTon plays it fairly straight, as on “War”, which is ten minutes of slow and brutal sludge, the album’s modest run and the playful shifts woven into its fabric, ensure that it does not outstay its welcome. Meanwhile, highlights like the build in the first third of “Famine”, before the dam finally breaks and 71TonMan stumbles into a charge, are hugely satisfying.

All the performances on Of End Times are strong, with K.K.’s howling vocals and the dual guitars of M.Z. and T.G. particularly worth calling out, but, as with most entries in this sub-genre, the key is not in the technical skill of the band. Therefore, much of the credit for the success that album is must go to the songwriting, with a fair bit to the production team too. As for the former, 71TonMan strikes a very good balance between continent-shaking, soporific sludge and brief, but powerful, flashes of pacier, almost Sabbath-esque doom. I don’t want to labor the runtime point but even ten more minutes, which would be about the norm for this style, could have ruined what this album is. The production only adds to what the band has created on Of End Times, a thunderous, expansive sound, which gives just enough emphasis to the vocals to put them center stage, without dominating.

It seems very unlikely that, when choosing their band name, the members of 71TonMan had in mind the metric tonnage of the Leopard 2 tank but it really is quite appropriate as comparisons go. Hulking and packing a real punch, Of End Times stalks forward, shaking buildings as it rumbles past, before the guitarists gun the throttle and throw the whole thing forward in brief, glorious charges. A few more of those moments might have seen 71TonMan’s latest notch up another half point but there is no doubt that Of End Times is very good and also very well-titled.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Websites: 71tonman.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/71TonMan
Releases Worldwide: March 3rd, 2023

Show 1 footnote

  1. See me after class for appropriate disciplining if you actually believe that the answers to these questions will be interesting. Spoiler: they aren’t.
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