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Twisting and Convulsing by Bruja This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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When I first listened to Bruja, an American blackened sludge/stoner/doom metal trio, I was sitting in a dark room by myself. Not physically, physically I was sitting on the couch eating a bag of chips on a bright, clear afternoon. Mentally, however, I was alone in that dark room despite my actual surroundings which were the complete opposite of that. Bruja's music just has that power. It's full of feelings of isolation, darkness, and, to a lesser extent, despair. Take those and put them to a certain crushing, lo-fi heaviness, and you've got their most recent demo, Twisting and Convulsing.

The tribal-sounding drums that start off the demo give you a slightly uneasy feeling, comparable to walking down a silent road at night, knowing that someone could very well be watching you and that you might not be safe. An irrational feeling, maybe, but you just can't help it. Once things really get going with the gritty, low guitars that are putting dents in the ground with their heaviness and the raw, piercing, semi-intelligible shrieks of the madman they have doing vocals...you realize how unapologetic Bruja really is. You feel like the monster that was under your bed as a kid is grunting these depressive, horror-like lyrics at you, and the ones that were in your closet are his ensemble. They'll make you feel as hopeless as they want, and you'll love every second of it.

Being a release in one of the slower, sludgier spectrums of metal like this is, the instrumentation is none too mind-blowing. The drums plod along with their ritualistic-like booming and the guitars just crush their way through all 35 minutes of this demo, mixing it up with an interesting lead or two occasionally, like in Vivisection. It's the definition of simple, but effective. As long as they keep the mood up and the tempo down, which they do for the most part with only a few exceptions (Another Vagabond ) then the music is most open to letting you be fully immersed in it. When they do slightly pick up the speed they also pick up the heavy and drop the bleak atmosphere, so there's a bit of a drop in quality because there is no bassist in this band, and the lack of low-end doesn't allow Bruja to rely solely on heaviness instead of a mix of heavy and all the low-down moods they create. Luckily they don't leave you much room to nitpick, because Twisting and Convulsing consists of what they do best, and little more than that.

While this demo is repetitive, shows little variation between songs, and doesn't give you much that really sticks in your head, Bruja knows what they can do and they can do it damn well. They're crushing, sinister, and intense; if you think they should be doing anything else to please you, they will happily continue to plow you down with their devastatingly dense, dark, depressing, droning doom delivery. They don't care, but I do and you should too if you want a slab of sludge/doom/stoner or all of the above to chew you up and spit you out.



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