Shaping noise into extreme metal with Sewer Goddess

The grimy underground
By IAN DUNCAN-BROWN  |  August 23, 2011

sewer goddess
IDLE FILTH Disciples of Shit, Sewer Goddess’ recent live album release, was merely a result of “cold
sentiments and time on my hands,” says Kristen Rose.

"Sewer Goddess is not for everyone," declares Kristen Rose, summing up her band's six-year existence and drawing a line between the appreciative few and those distressed or repulsed by the group's provocative music. Since 2005, Sewer Goddess have trafficked in some of the heaviest and dirtiest sounds in extreme music. Their output evokes sludge coursing along a gutter into a storm drain under a buzzing, flickering streetlight in a sordid slum or seedy industrial sinkhole. Broken factory machinery clanks and grinds in the background, and a joyless, commanding female voice rises above the din — roaring, howling, and barking orders. Sewer Goddess are gritty, grimy, and unpleasant listening, but a growing legion of gluttons flock to the band's audial punishment.

Issued in June through esteemed American label Malignant, Disciples of Shit, Sewer Goddess's bubbling cauldron of a live album, collects highlights of the band's performances over the last two years. It kicks off with the cold, throbbing "Condemned is the Unborn One," a jarring snapshot of their heavy electronic material. Later tracks on the new collection, like the lengthy dirge "Chained to the Edge of Existence/A Lifeless Dreaming" show the successful interpolation of guitars, bass, and drums, which serve to bolster the mixers and contact mics traditional in harsh noise. The closer, "Slavepiece," rides a crushing doom riff replete with squealing, barely-controlled guitar feedback à la Eyehategod, revealing the project's heavy-metal prowess. A consistent feeling of crumbling decay unites the wildly varied instrumentation and song structures, as repetitive, narcotic riffs and pounding rhythms are pushed to breaking, churning into a whirlpool of aural aggravation. Shadowy, echoing vocals control the proceedings — though all members contribute equally, Rose plays curator and creative director. "Cold sentiments and time on my hands," she says of the project's inspirations.

Sewer Goddess's meteoric rise through the ranks of heavy music is owed to their dynamic, atmospheric recordings, choice imagery, blistering live sets, and, most of all, their genre-bridging. The rotating cast of Sewer Goddess play in revered Boston death- and black- metal acts including Blessed Offal, Witch Tomb, and PanzerBastard. The rawness and atmosphere of extreme metal permeate Sewer Goddess's stylings, adding focus and structure sometimes absent from industrial noise. Carl Haas, of topnotch Boston power-electronics act Sharpwaist, also collaborates; and Josh Langberg, a skilled recording engineer, joins Sewer Goddess on stage and produces their output in his accoutred home studio. Langberg dons a bondage mask, a candid addition to the group's fetishistic visual aesthetic, when playing live. "I don't consider anyone who works with me a backing member," says Rose. "We're all contributing participants, and we share the responsibility of creating the heaviest sound within our means."

Though extreme-metal influences reinforce Sewer Goddess's material — thus breaking the strictures of death industrial, the sub-genre they're tied to within the broader spectrum of industrial noise — the purists needn't worry about tepid, highbrow experimentation. Instead, each release plunges Sewer Goddess deeper into a murky cesspool of despair, lust, addiction, and primal urges. The rest of the band contribute equally to the sonic sandpaper, but Rose takes full responsibility for the obsessions on display. Up next is a springtime European tour featuring a stripped-down, revamped line-up; a split 10-inch with Mourner through APOP records; and a 7-inch collaboration with the Royal Arch Blaspheme, a nefarious black metal act featuring USBM forefathers John Gelso of Profanatica and Imperial of Krieg.

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