The 2012 self-title debut of the Denver sludge/stoner/doom metal outfit, In the Company of Serpents, is a good one. It’s my favorite ITCOS album and for good reason, it kind of exemplifies what I like about stoner/sludge metal: fuzzy, groovy guitar, slamming drums and gruff, gravely vocals. The influence of Electric Wizard and Eyehategod are there, two heavy hitters of stoner/doom and sludge metal subgenres. Sludge walks a swervy line of drugs and metal where personal struggles, usually with drugs and alcohol, are part of the whole package.

ITCOS open this up with an intro that isn’t a throwaway track, it actually kicks ass and sets us up for what’s to come. The second track “Dirtnap” is my favorite track of the album, the main groove of the track is sludgy and catchy and really carries the song from start to finish. Grant Netzorg, who plays guitar, sings and writes the lyrics and music is a terrific frontman for a sludge act. He does it all and even without a bassist, it works for the duo, which on this album included drummer JJ Anselmi. The chair behind the kit after this album has since been filled by Joseph Weller Myer.

Netzorg’s vocals sound like they’re being sung into a metal tunnel, which is kinda cool. Something about it fits the whole sludge aspect, like Nertzog is living inside a storm drain under the road. Each of the tracks has their own unique and kick ass guitar riff that creates the mood of the song while not getting too boring with some speed and tempo variations. Anselmi’s drumming fits perfectly and the cymbal crashes come through clear and are used just right, they’re not buried in the mix like so many other bands I listen too.

This album also includes a good cover of Electric Wizard’s “Vinum Sabbathi” from their 2000 album Dopethrone.

This two-piece act makes really great stuff and are one of the best metal acts in Denver where this style of metal is pretty big for obvious reasons, stoner metalheads in a legalized state.

They’ll also be playing Denver Black Sky III this weekend, Dec. 5. If you’re not familiar with them, get on it.

Favorite Track: “Dirtnap”

Their self-title debut (and other work) is available from them because they don’t need no label.

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