Sorxe – The Ark Burner [Things You Might Have Missed 2019]

While every band out there claims their newest release will be their best, we all know that’s not always true. Few bands can say that every succeeding album is better than the one before it. In the case of Phoenix sludgers, Sorxe, each new album is, indeed, better than the last. Hitting our promo bin for the first time in 2014, there was little Grymm found interesting on the band’s debut. But when Matter & Void hit the deck three years later, my eyebrows glued themselves to the top of my head. And seeing them play that album live is still one of the best performances I’ve ever experienced. What didn’t hit our bin was this year’s The Ark Burner. But, thank the stars, I’ve been keeping tabs on this band for all you sludge suckers out there. But, will Sorxe continue their streak?

It’s rather difficult to say yes or no to this one. Matter & Void is a powerful combination of catchiness, heaviness, and sheer fluidity. Again, I’m partial to it because I got to see it in action. And, goddamn, was the band tight and on their game that night. That said, The Ark Burner is a different beast. It’s somehow heavier, it’s darker, and the general take-home is that it sticks to the slower side of the Sorxe sound. You won’t find the catchy riffs of a song like “Distraction Party” on The Ark Burner. Instead, you’ll find next-level darkness beyond anything the band has achieved.

“Dependence Day” starts off right where Matter & Void left off, with a crushing drive and sludgy attitude that’ll please any longtime fan. Then it morphs into a dark, doomy, clean vocal-led delirium. Follow-up track, “Exiled,” also picks up its Isis character and Mastodon-like aggressiveness. From here, The Ark Burner is nothing more than a portal to a shallow grave. “Full Transmission”—like its predecessor, “Eastern Transmission”—is, what appears to be, nothing more than an introduction to “Wondering If I Exist.” But, unlike “Eastern Transmission,” “Full Transmission” is exactly that: full. While this nine-minute epic does introduce its successor, this dark, complex instrumental is the soundtrack to a lost-and-forgotten ’80s horror movie.

After all the builds and suspense, some succeeding and some failing,1 the two pinnacles of The Ark Burner are the title track and “Wondering If I Exist.” The former combines all the dark qualities of the album into an innocent skinny-dip into deserty quicksand. More than a closer, it’s a desperate cry for help that leaves you itchy and perturbed. “Wondering If I Exist,” on the other hand, is the album’s black sheep. Only because it embodies every sound and direction the band has ever taken. Take the clean vocals and the harsh ones, the calming post-hardcore and the heavy sludge, the sludgy riffs and atmospheric builds, and you’ve got “Wondering If I Exist.” It’s the culmination of the band’s seven-year existence.

In the end, this new record is better than Matter & Void in a couple of areas. It’s a uncreased blanket of dark doom/sludge from opening to closing track. It pulses with a sinister heart and flows like a dark stream, alternating between ripple-free straightaways to white-tipped rapids. The Ark Burner is far more calculating than Matter & Void—pushing deeper into darkness as the album progresses. If the opener is the construction of the legendary Ark, then the closer is its destruction. With every species going along for the ride.

Tracks to Check Out: “Exiled,” “Full Transmission,” and “Wondering If I Exist”

Show 1 footnote

  1. I’m sorry, “A Negative Exorcism.”
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