Posts Tagged ‘Doom’

Exile On Mainstream – 21st April 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

It begins with a howl of feedback. Of course it does. The sustain continues through the opening power chords: doomy, slow, before it all comes crashing in, trudging tempo and gut-churningly downtuned.

Obelyskkh’s fourth album isn’t so much about surprises, but about continuing – and extending – the trajectory of its predecessors, albeit with a greater emphasis on groove. Not that this is an album you can dance to: it’s very much one to slow headbang to. The press release draws attention to the fact that the album’s title ‘evokes one of H. P. Lovecraft’s iconic poems, providing inspiration for the album’s lyrical content and the artwork for The Providence. Another dimension to the album is illustrated almost perfectly by French revolutionist Victor Hugo: “Above all, you can believe in Providence in either of two ways, either as thirst believes in the orange, or as the ass believes in the whip.” The band lived by this message throughout their uphill battle to complete the record.’

It’s taken them four years, and The Providence feels like four years’ anguish and slog distilled into six immense pieces. The title track, which opens the set, is twelve minutes long. It’s not pretentious, but heavy with portent: this is a vast doomscape of an album, dominated by some colossal guitar riffery, propelled by a juggernaut of a rhythm section.

Things get a bit progressive folk-metal in the middle of ‘Raving Ones,’ but when the riff hits its stride, it’s a throbbing, driving rush. Elsewhere, ‘Northern Lights’ veers toward classic, vintage horror, with a deluge of cataclysmic guitars burning a purgatorial furrow on the scale of the Grand Canyon. And just when the thick distortion threatens to burn out the eardrums, a shift toward upper frequency overload provides the punishing attack needed to complete the abominable mission. The fourteen-minute ‘NYX’ stands as the album’s centrepiece, and is a classic slab of thunderous, sludgy doom metal. Over the course of a succession of passages, it grinds its way to a punishing critical mass, with velocity consumed by density.

Clocking in at under six minutes, ‘Aeons of Iconoclasm’ feels almost throwaway in its brevity. Fear chords weave and waft almost subliminally, and it feels at first like a mere interlude, but then the gates of hell open and every screaming demon ever known tears down from the blackest of skies.

In contrast, the slow, but so, so, dense guitar overload of ‘Marzanna’ feels like a gentle wind-down, although at over nine and a half minutes of roaring thunder and groaning, droning, slowed riffage and mangled vocals that squeeze Sabbath through a Melvins filter it’s hardly some kind of loungecore fluff.

Everything about The Providence is immense. This is heavyweight, it’s doomy metal exactly the way it should be.

 

 

Obelyskkh – The Providence

3rd February 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

As a band who really grabbed me by the throat with the release of their ‘Nowhere’ EP in 2015, the arrival of the latest offering from GHXST in my inbox was cause for excitement. And rightly so. To cut to the chase, Perish is a masterpiece.

The EP’s first track, ‘Southern Eye’, carries the refrain of ‘nowhere’ and as such, continues the theme of displacement, of outsiderdom, of not belonging which was core to the aforementioned EP. It’s a fair summary of what GHXST are about, musically, conceptually, and lyrically. Their songs deal with darker themes, and the cover art, which seems to evoke the spirit of Joy Division conveys an appropriate sense of bleakness, but also a certain, ineffable serenity and grace.

On the title track, a rushing guitar grind and reverberating samples are counterpointed by a haunting – and achingly beautiful – vocal that has hints of Alison Shaw of Cranes, only less squeaky, and Toni Halliday. The contrast is what defines the sound, and is ultimately what makes GHXST so special: it’s so rare for a band this heavy to convey so much emotional sensitivity. Theirs is not a sonic expression of nihilistic rage, but of something altogether more nuanced, possessing a heart-trembling beauty, rendered all the more distinct in their execution by the use of a drum machine. As such, they’re in an entirely different league from the few doomgaze contemporaries with female vocals one might name, like Esben and the Witch and Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard. And on this outing they expand their sound to incorporate elements of blues and country. How does that sit as a genre? But it’s not merely the fact they exist within their own niche: the tracks on Perish: the quality of the songs, and their spectacularly atmospheric execution is something special.

‘Stories We Tell’ achieves a heart-rending beauty while crushing your skull with punishing guitars and pounding, slow-tempo percussion: the guitars grate and grind, each power chord throbbing with a malevolent afterburn. ‘Summer Moon’ presents a surging pop dynamic, a dash of Jesus and May Chain against a Chapterhouse-y whirl of shoegaziness and ‘Waiting for the Night’ is a slow-surging dirge, riven with the crackling pops of Akai snare bursts which shouldn’t work but actually bring a bleak aggression to the droning. Closer ‘No Wild West’ introduces a droning desert blues element, the chugging guitars drifting over an expansive, barren wasteland as Shelley X drawls into a sea of reverb.

This is by no means inaccessible music: it’s music to lose yourself in. The songs themselves are comparatively short – none extend beyond the five-minute mark – but all bear all the hallmarks of true epics, with a sound which is beyond vast.

 

 

 

 

GHXST - Perish

Southern Lord – 10th February 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

No-one could accuse Sleep of rushing their output, on any level. Masters of the slowest, droniest, doomiest, stoneriest metal going, they’ve managed four albums and an EP since their emergence at the dawn of the 1990s. Although pitched as featuring their first new song in forever, ‘The Clarity’ was originally released digitally in 2014.

Compared to the release which preceded it, the magnum opus which was Jerusalem (later released in it full hour-long glory as Dopesmoker), ‘The Clarity’ is a pretty concise affair, clocking in at a fraction under ten minutes.

As is Sleep’s trademark, it’s a slow-paced, riff-centric trudge, crushing, sludgy guitar and bass form a thick, bubbling coat of heavy-grained sonic soup around crushing percussion. The vocals emanate a heavy-lidded sedatedness as the lyrics conjure tripped out images, and the whole thig plods its way on with no regard for anything, really. There’s an extended guitar solo, which really does go on and on and is a total wig-out, and all the while, the riff – and no doubt the spliff – just rolls. It’s a beast, alright, and certainly worthy of the special etched vinyl treatment.

 

 

Sleep_etching_final-1015x1024

Heavy Baby Records – 21st January 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Ok, so I’m not one to judge a record by its cover, but obviously there’s a lot to be said for packaging music in – or with – cover art which reflects the contents in some way. Heavy Baby Sea Slugs’ new offering, the Teenage Graveyard Party EP has artwork which says ‘sixteen minutes of raw, full-tilt sludge-metal racket’, and funnily enough, that’s precisely what it delivers (as one might reasonably expect from a band who previously released an album entitled Fistula Missile and who seemingly enjoy considerably more success in Japan and Taiwan than at home in Texas).

‘King Midas of Shit’ launches the EP with a savage deluge of nasty, gnarly noise, piledriving in at a hundred miles an hour. Talk about a sonic slap round the chops! It’s a frantic, frenetic and stubbornly unpolished aural assault which spits and snarls and spews in all directions.

The title track slows the pace and actually offer some semblance of a tune, with some proper singing and everything – at least until about halfway through when the band put their collective pedal to the metal and thrash their way senseless to the end. Don’t expect any cuddles from the bass-led thunder of ‘Pit Bait’, either. It comes on like a Motorhead 45 being played at 33.

The six-minute closer, ‘Zero-One’ really brings the grind with a downtuned, gut-churning trudge that’s somewhere between early Swans and early Melvins. It’s a gruelling dirge which makes no real attempt to get going, and instead spends is time making threats, with slow, heavy drums, scrawling feedback and yawning bass drone. It’s crushingly heavy, and feels like the soundtrack to an eternity in purgatory.

It may only be sixteen minutes in duration, but Teenage Graveyard Party is a gloriously unpleasant, dirty, mangled mess of noise. Party on, dudes.

 

Heavy Baby Sea Slugs – Teenage Graveyard Party