Steve Jr. is the duo of Corbin Ordel and Gleb Wilson, and through a sonic alchemical reaction they have spawned the truly monstrous Gudge EP. Their new musical beast is more sprawling than their self-titled debut, veering from the anthemic punch of their early material to explore heavier territory. It wanders, pacing through a thick swamp of pure sludge till the grooves are worn deep. The guitar and drum dirges bleed into heavy psych, but they still maintain the hooks that have made many a head bob at live shows. Pummelling drums and Ordel’s buzzsaw guitar will be familiar to longtime fans, but their aesthetic reaches new levels of ferocity on the punk-influenced “Intro” and heavy jammer “Mutt”.
The dense, distortion-steeped background contrasts well with sparse vocals that veer between emphatic shouts and complete lyrical disaffection. On “Oh Well,” a tight groove layered with echoed, melodic vocals kicks off into a chaotic breakdown midway through the song and they duo lets everything fall apart in the best way possible: the voice rips into incomprehensible yells before Wilson repeats, over and over again, “Oh well….” over a loose and sludgy riff. The lyrics may convey apathy, but the steady propulsion of noise in the background keeps things afloat: you can’t give up with that kind of momentum chugging along. Recalling the ’90s heyday of Royal Trux with its walloping distortion and loose, meandering songwriting style, Gudge is another solid output from one of Montreal’s heaviest duos.
– Joni Sadler