Coeval with Unruh, Ryan Butler and Mike Bjella dropped the BPMs and a few octaves in Wellington, combining prime Cavity with the B side of My War for a stomp and stumble cacophony that shared wax with Noothgrush and shelf space with Grief.
Like those bands, Wellington’s testicle swinging sludge rested on an infrastructure of iron girded hardcore. Frilly shirts, bottles of Chablis and lame romantic poetry are nowhere in sight. This is street level gloom that barks back the toxic sludge of ozone, particulate matter and sulfur dioxide we breathe in each day overtop simmering rush hour rage riffs and creaking subway drumming.
While Butler and Bjella are dynamic, engaging songwriters, Wellington’s secret cache of WMDs was stashed atop the drum riser. While other doom and sludge drummers only stir from their Vicodin stupors every five or six measures to pound out a solitary beat, Gordon Heckaman pounds his kit like somebody slipped him a PCP mickey on “Friend, Son” and even ramps up to proto-blastbeat speeds on “Isolated in Despair.” “Harness” and “Shoes” actually rock out, which is rare for a sludge song and “Interlude” may be the best shotgun marriage of desultory doom and blastbeats outside of Disembowelment. Please try not to hold it against Wellington that Heckaman currently backstops Boston puss-metalers Powerman 5000.
Musically, one of Wellington’s most impressive feats was their bold use of white space for songwriters so young. The haunting drums only passages of “Please” recollect the Melvins’ “Oven” or Harvey Milk whisper to wail dynamics.
More than just a “featuring members of…” kind of band, Wellington deserve recognition for both their songwriting risks and successes.
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