Negative Reaction Under the Ancient Penalty

New York sludge puppies Negative Reaction celebrate their 16th anniversary with their most straightforward doom album yet. Under the Ancient Penalty strips away the band’s onerous Crowbar/Pro-Pain hardcore, replacing it with Bayou-dripping swamp riffage. "Lost” sports an immediately recognisable Eyehategod-styled groove, form-fitting to the band like greasy rubber gloves. Front-man Ken E. Bones isn’t singing in his usual high-pitched, Muppet-ish growl; instead, he’s reverted to a midrange growl, and he even whispers during the bridges of "Pain.” The ambitious "Loathing” spotlights Bones’ clean vocals in the choruses (for possibly the first time ever), and the tune has a good bit of EHG swing with a dollop of old Cathedral for extra dankness. He stretches out in "Suffer” with a Wino-styled guitar solo, and "Linger” boasts a solid drum & bass outro. Bones uses his deepest growl throughout "Alone,” giving it a Soulpreacher-esque gloom, and ends with a fantastic double-timed segment. Like mid-career EHG without the feedback, the clean riffs of Under the Ancient Penalty will appeal to fans of old school sludge like Hawg Jaw, Grief and Burning Witch. (This Dark Reign)