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EP Review: Three of Swords – From Grey to White

A name like Three of Swords suggests mystical occult sounds, but this Fort Wayne-based trio thoroughly revels in sludge/doom filth on From Grey to White. The guitar and bass intermingle like the contents of a septic tank, the drums churn this mix with loose beats and slow-motion fills, and sharp yells cut through before sinking back in the maelstrom. The vaguely southern slant of the rhythms make comparisons to groups like Weedeater, Cough, and Eyehategod even more apparent.

Even though a four song EP would suggest a tentative first step, the band clearly knows what it’s doing. The musicians all have strong chemistry, which is unsurprising since they’d played together in Hellhawk last year, and the mix is balanced in seemingly everyone’s favor. The vocals are often overpowered by the guitar and bass work, but this is to be expected and certainly encouraged when the riffs provide the most memorability. That said, the vocals do suit the material well enough and remind me of Thorr-Axe’s early years at times.

The tempos never rise above a snail’s crawl, but it’d be unfair to say the songs are all interchangeable. The title track is the best song on here as its riff set is the most memorable, and the buildup makes it sound massive despite being one of the EP’s shorter songs. The seven minute “Misery Gypsy” takes this grandiosity into an almost otherworldly realm without losing the abrasive attitude.

Three of Swords may be performing the sort of stoner sludge that frankly writes itself but From Grey to White makes for a solid first impression. It’s pretty basic stuff, but the tones are massive and the musicianship is tighter than it lets on. The length is agreeable enough for the slow and low format, but there are also inklings of further development hinted at toward the end. Bottom line, fans of the genre should eat this up and prepare themselves for what may be rumbling in the near future.

Highlights:
“From Grey to White”
“Misery Gypsy”

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