Rue Thorns

When the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde once sang about returning to her home state of Ohio and finding her city gone, it was likely Rue's fault. This sludge outfit from Akron wield their instruments like heavy machinery designed for razing tall buildings. Progressing from the semi-monolithic doom of their 2003 eponymous debut and their 2004 split with Aldebaran to a more groove-centric approach on 2008's vinyl-only A Heart Held by Demons EP, Rue take Thorns even further into accessible territory. After a brief acoustic intro, "Brown" growls into existence, bringing with it a heaping helping of Crowbar-esque vitriol, but tempered by Torche-like vocal harmonies. Kicking off with a throaty, Pantera-ish scream, "For Thousands of Years" features the first hints of vocalist Jeff Fahl's best Dax Riggs imitation, one he perfects in "Pressures," "High Iron Blues," "Choices," "Storm and Sea" and the guitar solo-heavy "Sadaver." Pilfering primary riffs from Zeppelin's "Four Sticks," "Broken Arms Broken Wings" is a down-tuned slugfest for bassist Mike Faucher and drummer Greg Cook, but it's also another opportunity for Fahl to put his vocals through the wringer for some extremely throat-shredding articulation. He emerges triumphantly with pipes intact for more Acid Bath crooning in "Walk of Lies," complete with Eyehategod-like breakdowns. Once mere apprentices, Rue are quickly gaining on the masters of the subgenre, one mud-caked riff at a time. (Shifty)