Carve a path
Rarely are bands named quite as aptly as Reno’s Glacier. The band is slow, super heavy, and seems to crush everything in its path, carving valleys where before stood only mountains. Like many good band names, “Glacier” has been used before by other bands, and will probably be used again, but it’s a perfect fit for this quintet.
Glacier is a sludge metal band. Sludge metal is a sub-genre that basically sounds like Black Sabbath played at half the speed and twice the volume. Glacier guitarists Daniel Page and Richard Wyllie, and bassist Nick Green play heavy, distorted, repetitive riffs on down-tuned guitars. Drummer Jeff Rogers keeps the tempos slow and neck-swiveling. The group plays at such extreme volume that the music rattles chests and vibrates jaws, but at the same time, the music is oddly relaxing and meditative, like sweating in a hot sauna after difficult physical labor. Time seems to stand still, and, after a while, it becomes unclear if a song has lasted for two minutes or 20, and then when the song changes key, or switches momentarily into a more upbeat stoner rock riff, it achieves a strange profundity.
Ryan DeRicco’s vocals are largely unintelligible, but pack a visceral power, especially in the ass-kicking tune “Man Fly.” His gruff, up-from-the-gut howl cuts through the sludge where many singers would be buried and drowned.
“I have to work for it,” he says. “That’s why I sweat like this.”
His bandmates joke that you can always tell where DeRicco has been after a show by the trail of sweat drops.
Lyrically, DeRicco writes about stuff appropriately epic for a band like this. “Recrossing the Bergschrund” is about Norse mythology. A bergschrund is a crevasse in a glacier—the band often plays up the glacier theme. “Calypso” is named after an ice moon of Saturn.
“Not the style of music,” says Page, with a laugh. The slow heaviosity of Glacier is pretty far removed from the upbeat, percussion-driven, carnival atmosphere of calypso.
The power of Glacier lies in the simple, primal, animal-brain appeal of the drone of a down-tuned guitar.
“The simplest, heaviest shit is always the most effective,” says DeRicco.
The simple effectiveness of the music is also rooted in the fact that the band members have a variety of levels of experience. Wyllie’s a music vet who also currently plays in The Swamp Donkey, a band that could also be labeled as sludge metal, though it takes a much craftier approach to songwriting. On the other end of the spectrum, Rogers and Page were both newbies to their instruments when the band started three years ago.
“We’re not overly serious about it, either,” says Rogers. “We practiced for two years before our first show. We just write shit we want to listen to.”
That’s a simple but important principle that too many bands forget.
“We’re just playing stuff we want to hear,” says Page.