The Finns Usko has been quietly active since '06, but it took them until the first days of 2012 to release their debut record. The quartet of drums, vocals and two basses is planning on recording new material during the spring.

My mind drew some similarities between Usko and an other Finnish sludge-band, the dare-I-say-legendary Loinen, as they both play similarly cold, heavy, bassy and primitive sludge with a dark and more or less nihilistic atmosphere. Don't let the cover drawing fool you; Usko is no fun.

The songs trudge either slowly or even slower, but keep on wading forward firmly and steadily. The riffs are simplistic enough to keep the structures clear, but the two entwining basses make sure they have well enough depth, mass and variation to stay interesting. The tape was recorded live, so the instruments carry a whole lot of small imperfections and sudden bits of feedback that give the band's sound a lot of tasty unpredictability and hostility.

Despite being recorded live, the basses sound very sturdy. The thinly hissing cymbals suit the cold atmosphere perfectly, as do the bits of additional droning noises and screeches. The vocals are spat out as low growls that are somewhat muffled, and I haven't yet come to decide whether their inhumane and distant feel suits the songs, or should they have more clarity to give some needed weigth to the desperate lyrics. Either way, they could be better.

"Kuusi" sounds very natural and primitive, even ugly, and I would recommend it to only those with a taste for the dirtier kind of sludge. The tape certainly isn't the best the band can do, even if most of the EP's problems relate to the somewhat damp soundscape. The variance between the most plodding moments and the slightly faster, even (in a broader sense) psychedelic moments is searching for its core essence and balance, which eats away a bit of the songs' powers of slowly beating the listener to the ground. Still, it's a highly promising effort from an fresh sludge-band, and I would most certainly buy the tape if I didn't already have it. It's currently available as a free download from Usko's bandcamp-site, too.

7+ / 10