Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean - I Tried Catching You But You Fell Through Me (Howling Frequency)

Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean are a band well deserving of their weighty and weighted name. Comparisons to Thou's bleak and colossal brand of sludge are well-founded, but Chained distinguish themselves by minimising their iconic forebears’ trad-doom influence and maximising the density of riffs and tones seemingly dredged up from the Marianas. The I Tried Catching You But You Fell Through Me EP is Chained's first original material since 2019, and with the Obsession Destruction full-length due to come out in May this year, it's very promising to hear the band refine their smothering, waterlogged sludge.

The first two tracks come out the gate with familiar, back-to-basics compositions, treating us to the band's signature vice-grip as it reaches up from the depths. Though it's a shame they don't hold more presence on the record, the occasional forays into pummeling death-doom also bring new flavour to an already characterful sound. The production shows a pretty clear improvement too, as Chained deftly navigate the difficult task of pursuing clarity of sound without falling into sterility—even if the drums do at times feel a little too hi-res for the grimy guitars. “Decadence in the House of Rats” is the standout track, and it’s impossible not to feel the tidal force of its lumbering, leviathan pace, punctuated by some truly despairing and raspy vocal work. It’s slightly dissatisfying to have this final track fade out rather than reach a definitive conclusion, but if the purpose of I Tried Catching You is to whet our appetites for the incoming full-length, then perhaps it’s better we’re left anticipating what's in store.