Indian - _Guiltless_
(Relapse Records, 2011)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (7.5 out of 10)
Good god damn. It's one thing to be swept off your feet by an album, it's quite another to be knocked from stable ground. Indian is the name of a Chicago sludge band with many feet in various camps. The early days of Indian were concentrated on insurmountable sludge which made any attempt at beating the listener into submission. Indian's first Relapse release has not changed much from their skull-crushing debut; only in that there is more grace with behind the mortal blows.

The metal scene around Chicago is usually associated with Nachtmystium, Russian Circles, Macabre and, of course, Mudvayne. In fact, Indian guitarist Will Lindsey played on Nachtmystium's _Assassins: Black Meddle Pt II_ as well as a live Wolves in the Throne Room release. Indian's fraternization with the midwest / Pacific northwest black metal scene shows through with every release, as their fourth full-length is a kaleidoscope of extreme metal styles. But don't the let the varied plumage on this peacock fool you: the bird is still very pissed off and capable of taking a few eyes out before being taken down.

I enjoy an album starting with the second to longest song, as if presenting with a nine foot wall of teeming disdain. What is clear after the self-titled opener is that Indian will not make _Guiltless_ easy to understand or even enjoy at points. _Guiltless_ is a graduate level sludge course with various prerequisites required and no patience for the unprepared. It is brutal. It is daunting. It is heavy as a hippopotamus.

There is little variety in _Guiltless_ but after close consideration, seems to be secondary to the point. Indian's doom conjures the poltergeists of sludge's past with the likes of Buzzov*en and Grief. There will be no southern fried blues riff heard anywhere in this album -- only hate and despair wafting over the cracking of your collarbone. Once viewed at the correct angle, _Guiltless_ shines as a heavy answer to a very flooded market of sludge startups. The black rasp from Will Lindsay / Dylan O'Toole gives _Guiltless_ the wings it desperately deserves to soar to the gates of greatness.

The small variety within _Guiltless_ does not make itself apparent until further listens. "The Fate Before Fate" becomes a homage to the noisy chaos of second wave black metal while "Banality" pushes the doom template into thudding apocalyptic directions. "Banality" quickly cuts into its closer "No Grace" giving the listeners a closing devoid of any respite. The album's outro ends with memories of early Baroness and even Mastodon, just without the progressive foreshadowing or hints of optimism. _Guiltless_ is good, and seeing that it is the band's fourth release, I am willing to predict the slow yet steady climb into greatness in the coming years.


(article published 15/5/2011)

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