[Review] Sadhus (The Smoking Community) - Big Fish

Sadhus (The Smoking Community) - Big Fish
Heavy... Filthy... Angry... Dirty... Brutal...
Characterizations which despite the fact that they are inherent to the 'sludge-metal' genre people insist on using them in reviews of sludge releases usually without bothering to add much more info about anything else that we don't already know. Since this fact pisses me off :-p you can presume in advance that 'Big Fish' is all of the above, the sky is bluethe ceiling is up, the floor is down and let's go babble about several other things regarding this album.

Seven years after their first official recording (Foondamendalist / Miss Fortune Was A Henhouse Manager, Spinalonga Records), four years after their self titled debut (review here), three years after their split with Agnes Vein (Abduction / review here, in Greek) and just a little while after their 4-way split release (Inner Struggle / Jazz on Bones, with Last Rizla, Friend Of Gods, Rita Mosss) the sludge-boulders from Athens have returned with a sophomore album.
They may be a bit lingering concerning their productions but you can't blame them since that's their nature and the way they work and obviously, releasing albums just to make a release isn't what we, nor them want. Also take note that all their members are involved with a bunch of other activities, either other bands or their personal everyday jobs necessary to sustain themselves in a large expanse of free time of course.
The good thing is that Sadhus function first like a community of people which works in benefit of the band. After all, they eventually deliver some tasty material, and if you are fan of the genre then it's highly possible that 'Big Fish' will sound quite pleasing to your noise-loving ears.

The band's posture in this release remains solidly the same, as it has been for years now, following a  quite similar pattern to the one they presented us with their debut album. Of course the fact that they improved as a band, as individual musicians and that they evolved and progressed the way they work, somehow explains how they managed to record 'Big Fish' in it's entirety in a way that reflects the energy the band has on stage and the precise groovy feeling they give off; and mind me when I say to you that Sadhus' true power is their live appearances.
 (For those that haven't yet the chance to catch the band in a live gig here is an officialy and recently recorded live video in HD for their track "Sobbing Children".)

Sadhus (The Smoking Community) band photo 2018Sadhus seem to be persisting in the same (if not a bit more) viscous attitude, with an equally stiff and solid guitar riffing, but also, occasionaly implementing a more harsh and extreme approach regarding vocals and while keeping their fast parts punk'n'roll/hardcore-oriented they also often choose to change mood and 'direction' either between different tracks or within the same song as well, presenting a somehow 'pugnacious' behavior.
Keeping a quite gruff and minimal approach which is conspiquous in the whole album's extent they've evolved their sound and that's quite obvious even from the opening track which kicks in with such a powerful way, making the perfect prelude for the imminent besieging of your sanity. Terse and to the point, based on repetitive groovy patterns and riffage of immense density, this album hides no surprises or experimentation inside, yet it is a sincere manifestation of the band's unyeilding apetite for plain, swampy music and their lust for constantly being in touch with the boundaries of 'extreme'.
'Mild' passages intertwine with agressive outbursts, slower parts foreshadow the imminent attack of the big fish and, in the same way they've done it in the past, Sadhus show their ability in composing equally great tracks in a variety of durations. It is indicative that three out of the totally six tracks are longer than 7 minutes and that was also a fact in their debut album. Similarly to their debut, 'Big Fish' consists of 6 tracks with nearly equal total duration (33:56), and since it provides a quite significant 'variety' for its length, I have the impression that is going to easily satisfy both the stoner-sludge fans and those that may have more hardcore demands.

If your threshold for raw, sludge-ish, growling screams is low then maybe this release isn't quite the thing for you, but you can still use it to re-check your endurance thersholds ;-)
While Stavros, compared to the debut, hasn't changed significantly the type of his vocals there are some small occasional variations either on slower parts (Big Fish) or in faster and more extreme situtations (Lazarus). Generally, he proves himself to be the 'boulder' a band of this genre needs both in studio and of course on stage.
And since I mentioned the vocal part I think this is the right moment to say a few things about the lyrics that many people often disregard but for me they usually are that cherry on top and in the case of Sadhus, lyrics help the whole listening experience to be 100% complete.
Usually the lyrics express their views and thoughts regarding today's world situation, human relationships, war, wrecked societies, and the negative effects, the feelings and the disaffection all those things cause to people and to themselves of course. Obviously I am not going to write an interpretation of the lyrics for every song and often the same lyrics may have different interpretation depending on the person that each time reads them but I just hope that someone, after reading these lines, will take the time and read some of the album's lyrics while listening to it.
Personally, I singled out Hyper Roller which could have been written for St(r)eve, their rolling engineer, Big Fish for its references on war and inaction; and last but not least, my personal favorite of the album Sobbing Children, which if you were living in Greece you would easily understand that it was actually written for the hundreds of thousands of refugees, mostly from Syria, that the last years are attempting to find shelter, save their families' lifes and hope for a better future in another country, being exploited by 'slavers', trying with unsuitable means to cross the sea, to reach Europe and thus resulting in several thousand of drowned people and of course children.

This is the rotteness of our world that feeds the music and the lyrics of Sadhus...

To conclude, Sadhus are not reinventing the wheel here obviously, but they are back with an improved version of themselves, compared to the one they showed us in their debut and that's what a band is supposed to do in order to productively keep moving forward and gain more recognition. Who knows, maybe if they continue in that path, in a few years they will also reinvent themselves ;-) 
One way or another we'll be here, waiting! 

Sadhus (The Smoking Community) are:
Stavros vocals
Thomas G. guitars
Nikos bass
Greg drums
St(r)eve rolling engineer

✮ Sadhus (The Smoking Community) Interview on Downtuned Magazine (back in 2014)

Inhale – Exhale. Hold it in deep. Let go, and repeat again. Your hands, barely able to hold your head. It’s weighing a ton by now, and if you let it go, it’ll drop on the floor and break like glass into a thousand pieces. Your body is curled up and broken. How much more do you think it can take? Don’t bother trying to get yourself up. No matter how hard you try, you still find your face kissing the concrete. You may find a way out, but you’ll never taste justice. Know that the big fish will always eat the small one. It’s unbearable, but it’s the truth.
Sadhus “The Smoking Community” present their long awaited 2 nd studio album entitled:“Big Fish”.
A modern sludge poetic masterpiece, consisting of 6 swampy and unbelievably heavy tunes that will melt your brain faster than a 12-foot bong. Having shared the stage with bands such as Eyehategod, Weedeater, Dopethrone, Suma, Toner Low, Belzebong, Sardonis and participating in monumental festivals such as DESERTFEST, the 4 musicians and 1 rolling engineer decided to visit WRECK IT sound studios in KORINTHOS, home of the iconic 1000MODS, and record their heaviest record yet.
George Leodis did the mixing, Brat Boatright from “Audiosiege” did the mastering, Black Space did the artwork, the rolling engineer did the rolling and Sadhus “The Smoking Community” did what they do best. Burn amps with the most loud, groovy and heavy riffs they could think of.
Big Fish is more than a record. It’s like a great white shark lurking beneath the sea. The pace is slow but there is a heaviness in its presence you can feel inside your chest. Always changing direction, always calm but completely driven by instinct. And as you observe this iconic creature from a safe distance, deep down inside, you know that monster is capable of snapping any minute, come right after you, rip your head off, and chew your face as if it were a chicken nugget. No need to fight it. You’re fish food.
Released: 22 November, 2018 by Fuzz Ink· Records , in Vinyl and CD format.
Sadhus (The Smoking Community) - Big Fish Sadhus (The Smoking Community) - Big Fish Sadhus (The Smoking Community) - Big Fish Sadhus (The Smoking Community) - Big Fish

additional info:
Guest Solo on “Sobbing Children” (at 1:40) by Stavros DVS
Produced by Sadhus & George Leodis
Recorded live at Wreck-It Sound Studios, Corinth, GR, March 2018
Engineered & Mixed by George Leodis at Wreck-It Sound Studios, March-May 2018
Assistant Engineer Ramon aka Rambo
Mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, Portland, Oregon, USA
Artwork by Black Space
Handprinted by Fuzz Ink.
Photo by Marianna Roussou

A brief history of Sadhus (The Smoking Community)
In the year 1980, a green, massive comet falls down to earth. Inside it, a huge hairball, rotten, begins to inhale music, just perfect to its ears. Three mushrooms forced it in the psychedelic form of music and a 'Baba' helped it in his gnosis. All five, after a lot of intergalactic wanderings, decided to stay on earth as the embodiment of five earthly figures, keeping their genuine un-earthly music alive.

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