Sludge metal can be very challenging to listen to and, depending on the extremity of the approach of the artist, some can even be inaccessible to non-connoisseurs. If one were to judge on the basis of their odd name only, one would be forgiven for expecting inaccessible avant-garde sludge metal. However, on God's Hooks Biipiigwan strike me as being one of the more accessible sludge metal bands out there. That is not to say that their music is a dumbed down or commercialized version of sludge metal – that is not at all the case. It is just that they have taken a musical path that excludes many of the really quirky and weird elements associated with many more progressive and avant-garde sludge bands. There's nothing wrong with that, and God's Hooks is still very likely to be challenging enough to scare the crap out of the Lady Gaga-loving general public.
Just like bands such as Hard Charger, I Exist, Black Cobra, Black Tusk, and the more death metal oriented Elitist, Biipiigwan belongs to the category of sludge bands who do not neglect sludge metal's partial ancestry in hardcore and crust punk, drawing both on the aggression inherited from these genres and on the more psychedelic and doom-laden features inherited from southern rock and early doom metal. And Biipiigwan make this very clear in the opening track 'Beaches' which starts out uptempo and aggressive before gradually transitioning into the territory of slow and doomy music. Likewise 'Vegemite' starts out fast and furious before the band enter into heavier and slightly psychedelic passages. The much more compact 'Rhett' also follows this pattern, starting out an all out crust-blaster and suddenly changes into a heavier affair. In contrast 'In War' is kept heavy all the way, drawing on a series of repeated simple, but powerful, guitar figures – its overall feel is one of bleakness, but in the last two minutes the music becomes more layered and almost lush, which creates a very interesting contrast, and makes the track a quite stimulating one to listen to ('Crimson Sword' features the same sort of semi-lushness and, despite the use of tense chords, it is also a quite melodic and, at times, even pleasant track). The most challenging track, which is also the post progressive one, and perhaps even avant-garde, is the title track with its changes of tempo, growled vocals, break-downs and build-ups, and use of dissonant chords and harmonies. The closing track 'B'il Sabab' is a midpaced track with a stomping drive and some simple but compelling riffage.
While heavy at times, the music on God's Hooks is actually never slow as such – which is probably also one of the factors in the accessibility of the album. The balance between fast and heavy music is quite interesting as is the balance between simplicity and complexity.
Described as a blend of Yob, Neurosis and Unsane, Biipiigwaan captures the essence of the dual ancestry of sludge metal and is refreshingly energizing to listen to. Fans of I Exist, Black Cobra, Black Tusk and similar acts might like the album, and some fans of crust punk and hardcore punk might also find it interesting.
3. In War
4. God's Hooks
5. Crimson Sword
7. B'il Sabab