Advertised as “sludgy riffs, killer drumming, and pissed-off vocals” by Denver standouts Khemmis on their Facebook page, I was intrigued to check out the latest album from St. Louis’ The Lion’s DaughterI was not disappointed. The atmosphere crawls from the speakers on Existence is Horror and just look at that amazing cover art by the madman of metal album art, Paolo Girardi. We are only a week into 2016 and I already think this could be one of the best covers we see this year.

Throughout the entire affair, Rich Giordano’s vocals are strained and tortured -as sludge vocals go- they suit the music quite well. I gotta also commend the heavy bass lines of Scott Fogelbach, they really help give this album that extra layer of atmosphere with their deep sound.

The Lion’s Daughter really make good use of their black and sludge metal melding. I’d say that sludge dominates that makeup, but the black metal elements show up sometimes and make themselves known in the riffs and the drumming, especially on “Four Flies,” my second favorite track of this album. I wouldn’t say that I thought those two genres could be mutually exclusive, but I would’ve been unsure how it could sound seamlessly good together. Existence is Horror sold me on what could come from an unholy alliance of blackened sludge metal.

The entire album is good if you’re into sludge and there are a few standout tracks for me here. The second to last track, “They’re Already Inside,” has an amazing intro that shows up again as part of the bridge of the song. Love that track. “The Fiction in the Dark” is another stage set piece in this show as it’s largely instrumental in nature but Giordano’s guitar just gives off this haunting riff as Erik Ramsier lets his sticks drum you into a trance.

My favorite cut though is “Nothing Lies Ahead.” Damn that track really grabs your attention with this spacey descending riff. There’s some really cool guitar work going on there that will make it an easy choice for repeat listens. I know because I’ve probably played it about 10 times in the last 24 hours.

Do yourself (and them) a favor and go pick up Existence is Horror, available now from Season of Mist.