Monday, 26 August 2013

BELL WITCH - Longing

Finishing off today's doom trilogy I have traveled, in a sense, to Seattle in the US of A for the debut album of sludge/drone doom duo Bell Witch entitled "Longing".

As if the immaculate artwork for "Longing" wasn't enough, opening track "Bails (Of Flesh)" has been one of my favourite songs for the best part of this year when I first heard Bell Witch. It's long drawn out notes, the darkness that it shrouds itself in and the very subtle colder guitar tones that permeate the track giving it a depressive, despondent aura are simply breath taking. Never in a rush to get from the start to the finish, things crawl painstakingly along until the first roar of the anguished growled finally pierces the gloom which the band hath made! 

There is a dense under laying ferocity about Bell Witch, a deep cavernous sense of foreboding that increases progressively as the music continues along it's blackened and withered path. Yet with extreme heaviness also comes great subtlety and grace and in places this doom duo dispense with the bombardment and offer up a more melodic interlude or two, almost peaceful as the atmosphere changes overhead to one of hope mixed with a melancholy sorrow, the burning anger for the time being laid dormant under the surface. If I have one criticism of this album and it is only the one, I'd say whilst I see the need for cleaner vocals in places to mirror the bands style changes, they do need to be of a better quality than what is currently on offer, at least in places. At others they seem well executed and it may be a problem in production. 

Luckily cleaner vocals are in the minority on this album, an album which as any decent drone influenced affair does amount to epic track lengths and hence as they are in the minority my one and only gripe is a small one and can make way for the adulation of a truly superb body of work! An album of contrasts is what "Longing" serves up, from the darkest recesses of their collective minds comes a hint of light in places. In an ocean of undulating and churning ferocity comes an interlude of peace and reflection, yet at all times the sheer quality shines through!

8/10 - Luke Hayhurst

WIZARD'S BEARD - Four Tired Undertakers

I hail from the city of York at present in the north of England and one town over, just a few miles away in Leeds the music scene is thriving! One of the better bands to come from this seething metropolis of metal is the sludge doom four piece known brilliantly as Wizard's Beard, a band I happened to see live some months ago in the cellar of an school working class pub in Leeds. Let me tell you the rumble and thunder these lads churned out was mightily impressive and so leads me on to today's second review of three, Wizard's Beard's sophomore full length album releases entitled "Four Tired Undertakers"

Slowly and surely opening track "Subirse El Muerto" rises from the peace and quiet with deep, calculating guitar tones, firm but placid drum beats before a crescendo is reached, the clash of symbol rings out and harsh, half growled half screamed vocals permeate the tranquility as Wizard's Beard's heavy drawn out drawl and absolute doom laden ferocity is unleashed!

If the words crushing, destructive or monolithic were formed for one purpose only it would be as adjectives to verify the intense and heavy nature with which Wizard's Beard go about the task of churning out simply breath taking doom! Splendidly catchy in places, devastatingly thunderous in others, the band hit home and hit home hard again and again and again with all the grace and mercy of a category five hurricane, aftermath included! 

"Abandon the Wolf" is a pure thoroughbred of catchy riffs, a track that demands your head be banged and your mind me lost as the bands blanket you in a shroud of intense beats and thoroughly groove drenched melodies yet still packing in a few moments of slowed down ferocity as huge drum beats, riffs and growls are thrown up high to come crashing back down to earth with the strength and impact of a neutron bomb!

As the long drawn out ending to "Abandon the Wolf" reaches it's climax the aura around the album is an oppressive fog, alleviated momentarily by the opening bursts of "Daemon" which increases the easy going nature the band occasionally dabble with whilst tempering this style with more angry bursts of catastrophic heaviness with which Wizard's Beard seem so adept at! As things progress this song gets progressively darker, slower and more brooding as befits the subject matter at hand and by the end the band have you mired in a thick swamp of riffs and an evil lurking intent! The aptly named "Seeth Inside" starts with subtle tones that has you on the edge of your seat waiting for the explosion of heaviness you know is sure to come and true to form these lads don't let you down!

Heading towards the end of an album you simply don't wish to end and the band batter and pulverise their way through penultimate track "Accursed" with all the grace and subtlety of a brick to the face as this cathedral of noise and ferocity leads into the albums epic, an eleven minute finale entitled "Harbinger" that sees Wizard's Beard bring this montage of doom and filth to a well executed finish! Nothing creates the mindset for doom like being from Yorkshire and here is one example of exactly how to tap into that frame of mind. A must own album from a band you have to experience!

9/10 - Luke Hayhurst

NIGHTSLUG - Nightslug Demo

I apologise for the length of time it has taken me to post anything upon the Domkyrkan pages of late but goings on with Destructive Music have kept me somewhat busy. Domkyrkan, my doom side project however lives on and has not been forgotten, nor have the bands who are to feature. Therefore today I am treating all my faithful readers to a trilogy of doom, starting with the debut release from German sludge outfit Nightslug and their 2011 released self titled demo, later re-released on cassette by the excellent Cosmic Tomb!

Opening this three track demo is the song "Nightslug" which kicks things off in a deliberately slow, methodical manner and possessing all that you require from any decent sludge band, crushing down tuned riff-age, a solid back-line of thunderous crawling drumming and a thick meaty bass line, topped off with grime covered vocals, dripping with filth and aggression. Oh yes, this is a good start.

The drawl and groove of Nightslug's slow, ponderous and menacing sound is simply superb and oozing with a masterful display of technicality, as well as a huge amount of monolithic riffs that makes you think more of America's deep south than it does of Dusseldorf, Germany. Starting with the massive fuzzed out licks of bass play before the crashing of drums and ferocity of riffs kicks in, "The Curse Reborn" is a much shorter offering but oh so potent none the less! Much more of a groovy little number, this one still packs a real punch when Nightslug open the taps and lay down a solid line of crushing riffs, intense and brutal drumming and scorched vocals as "THE CURSE REBORN" is growled out over and over again!

It's a damn shame that this demo has to finish but at least it has the good grace to do so with a flourish as the quickened opening moments of the aptly titled "Roars of Rage" soon settle down for another bout of steely determined German sludge, raw, aggressive and down right heavy! You'll be pleased to know that this year sees the release of the bands debut full length album going by the name of "Dismal Fucker"... On the strength of this mere demo I'd say it's going to be a must own!

9/10 - Luke Hayhurst