SORXE – The Ark Burner

Rating: 4/5
Distributor/label URL:
Released: 2019
Buy Album:
Band Website:

Band line-up:

Shane Ocell – Drums , Vox
Tanner Crace – Guitar , Vox , Synth
Jonathan Portnoy – Bass , vox


1. Dependence Day
2. Exiled
3. Full Transmission
4. Wondering If I Exist
5. A Negative Exorcism
6. The Ark Burner


Sorxe are a psychedelic sludge band on Prosthetic Records, who will be releasing their latest album ‘The Ark Burner’ on October 11th. Matt Bayles of Russian Circles, and Botch was responsible for the mixing and Brad Boatright mastered the album. The group features two bass players, adding a unique sense of layering that is combined with unorthodox drum beats and an overall crushing intensity. The musicians are inspired by negative thoughts, doubts and sleepless nights and write lyrics that are on the bleaker side of life.

Well, what a journey this album is! You certainly get lots of changes in instrumentation. Sometimes you get the whole band, other times you get guitars on their own, guitars added with keys, clean and distorted effects, etc. Even though the music is far from ostentatious and virtuosic, the various sections of it work because they’re so morbidly atmospheric and colourful. Many similar bands would just sound plain boring if they tried to write in Sorxe’s often relatively stripped down instrumental style. When it comes to development, the band have progressive metal complexity. Think Tool when they forget to take their anti-depressants. 

In terms of melody and harmony, these guys aren’t afraid to go into strange territories with chromatic parts and when they do, they create a very alien sound that is somewhat doomy and nightmarish. In contrast, other times the moods are genuinely emotional and mourning. In shorter pieces of music, such switching of feelings would be messy, but not here. All songs are rather epic. You may think a band that uses such ridiculously low tunings would be all about moshing to, but again, their stuff is more thoughtful and intellectual than anything else, but of course it will sound great loud anyway. 

Whilst all of the above is admirable, the guitar riffs are often kind of mediocre and uninventive, largely sticking to sludge metal power chord cliches. They may achieve the goal of angry scene setting, but they lack that special catchiness classic Candlemass ostinatos have, for example. Having said that, when one tries to empty his mind, ideas that stick in it aren’t always wanted. Sorxe do sometimes write music that is eerily peaceful and is rather effective at making you zone out. Much of the music isn’t really riff-based though but instead is more about creating textures or utilising plain chord progressions, so the problem with hooks is not as big as it could have been. Some of the bass lines in the song ’The Ark Burner’ are pretty cool, though.

In conclusion, this stuff is far more interesting than your typical sludge band. Even the drums which role is often neglected in heavy metal have a certain spookiness to them. The whole kit is used and the percussionist clearly isn’t just about playing simple, repetitive beats. Be warned however, this music is pretty damn miserable which needless to say, will be off-putting to many. It is highly recommended listening for doom, avant-garde metal and depressive music fans!

Review by Simon Wiedemann