Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hela - Broken Cross


Spain probably has one of the most under rated metal scenes of all times. Though its early grind and thrash scenes have legendary status in metal circles and the quality of modern death metal is laudatory, exports of other genres from this country have for some reason never garnered much attention. It’s one of those stories when failure of recognition was not because of dearth of quality or exiguousness of originality but quite probably lack of support or distribution channels which contributed to the ignorance towards this country’s metal exports. Like modern day Germany and Sweden, Spain too has developed a thriving, dynamic and competent stoner scene because of the paramount importance given towards quality and ingenuity, traits that are oft missing in the stagnant and redundant metal scene today, and thus more often than not getting efficacious results. From the country which has produced bands like Arenna, Horn of the Rhino and Great Coven which have appealed to our senses comes the new band on the block, Hela.

Formed after splitting up of the band ‘The Sand Collector’, Hela contains members of the aforesaid band and another band Nahrayan, which concocted a unique sound by mixing doom, death and sludge metal. They released their debut album entitled ‘Broken Cross’ earlier this year. Seeing that the band’s repertoire consisted of such musicians who showed a proclivity towards innovation rather than blindly setting on paths paved by the grandfathers of the genres it was no surprise to me that Hela have a sound that they can call their own. Hela’s music can be described as an assimilation of a sound that was created by Subrosa on their debut album, the quixotic yet riff driven take on the psychedelic infused meanderings of Ufomammut, riddled with melodic sections and a penchant for female fronted occult themed doom bands and have the sound which Hela can call their own.

In Norse mythology Hela was the daughter of Loki the Trickster, who was half rotted, and though very compassionate and caring also exuded an aura of dreariness and anxiousness and this is the reason why this collective foursome work under this name. The music of Hela though of onerous girth never really batters your eardrums enough so as to provide a tempestuous listening experience though it is extremely capable of doing so. The artwork is very reflective of this unique trait as well. The artwork which shows a mortified and depraved figure is drawn in cool colours, which reiterates my earlier point, that though this band is very capable of doing serious damage, they choose not to by taking a laid back approach and instead of choosing to batter the listeners into pulp with their inordinately corpulent riffs choose to create a wall of sound that is more benevolent than malevolent.

Extremely guitar driven, these six songs which last 46 minutes are testament of the originality of the band who have chosen to create their own path instead of following generally accepted trends. The song structures are masterfully created as well. The band keeps thing fresh by constantly reinventing itself and instead of sticking to a preconceived template introduce a lot of variation. Though there are extremely riff driven sections there are also sections which transfer the listener right to the psychedelia influenced expanses of the unknown. If there is catchy verse there is the long instrumental section as well. What is worth mentioning here is the prodigious amount of a variation present here not only on each track but on the album as a whole. While tracks like ‘Horns Of God’ or ‘Slave Of The Witch’ are all about the copious riffs wherein the drums bash forth the colossal riffs which are well bolstered by the bass which seems to strung by string strong and thick enough to hold up bridges, there is also ‘The Wicked King’ which produces memorable choruses and tracks like ‘March Of the Minotaurs’ and ‘Black Eagle’ which gyrate more towards the firmly driven roots of traditional stoner metal only for the band to subjugate you to music therapy with the album closer ‘Flesh Ceremony’.

Though there exists such amount of dissimilitude everything seems to flow which crystal clear clarity and fluidity and seems to be part of a greater picture. Be it the operatic vocals of extremely powerful lead singer Isabel Sierras whose voice slightly reminds me of Alunah lead singer Sophie Day, or the furious drum fills of Miguel who knows when to up the tempo so as create maximum impact, or the intertwining goodness the bass and guitar played by Julian and Tano respectively, everything seems a perfect fit and ultimately ends up creating a sound and an experience that Hela can claim their own. This album here is the dark horse of the best stoner album of the year, and with half the year already gone remains my favourite in this category. If you want stoner music with is approachable, does not quickly fall into a boring self parody and different you need not look further. Hela has arrived.

SCORE - 85/100

Sunday, June 2, 2013

High Priest Of Saturn - High Priest Of Saturn


To be acutely blunt and straightforward, in the today’s day, if there is one genre that is extremely overstuffed and wrought with unoriginality, it is stoner metal, and more specifically stoner/doom. Bands with their recycled Sabbathian riffs and Electric Wizard type drawn out song structures have made this a genre of who can come up with the best tribute to the aforesaid bands rather than delving into something new or expanding the boundaries of the genre and its sound in any way and have in the process made the regular stoner sound an extremely monotonous one where each bands sound like the next. Amidst this platitudinous and trivial contention of who can sound the heaviest or who can come up with the catchiest chorus, arises a power trio by the name of High Priest Of Saturn all the way from Norway. One instantaneously clubs black metal with the country of Norway, but they have quite a budding doom metal scene as well with bands like Sahg and Black Lodge having gained international recognition, and more recently Devil with its retro take on doom metal has gained them quite a few admirers.

Some of you may be aware of the band, consisting of Merethe Heggset who is the driving force of the band taking on the dual duties of vocalist and bassist, Andreas Hagen handling the drums and one half of the axework with Martin Sivertsen taking care of the other half and guest musician Ole Kristian Malmedal running has ethereal fingers over the organ. The band which released its self titled debut demo back in 2011, has come up with their first album, also self titled in early 2013. The new albums along with minor touches on the two tracks present on the demo, contains two new songs as well, which together stretch a tinge more than forty minutes. Though the average track length is rather high the inoffensive attitude and warm recording make for a very relaxing, almost ethereal experience.

While most bands fight trivial contests of who can be the loudest or who an immerse themselves the most in fuzz, High Priest Of Saturn have come up with a very laid back style of heavy stoner psychedelic metal. The music that the band play can be described as a portal between the past and the present with one foot firmly rooted in the 60’s psychedelia and 70’s Sabbath, with the other foot planted in the modern day stoner territories with its love for being drenched in fuzz, and still not being derivative in the least. Think Windhand minus the excessive fuzz molded with Spacefog without the aggression wrought together to create a swirling, mixing out of body experience into the atramentous passages only illuminated by torches lit by trips into the psychedelia infused expanses into the unknown. After you wrap your head around this imagine a continuous undercurrent of the organ throughout the release, taking the backstage instead of being the center of attention like in bands like Stonehenge and you have the primordial sound of a power trio collectively known as High Priest Of Saturn.

The band focuses not on a particular riff but instead focus on creating an experience where the focus of the listener is not drawn to any particular facet but instead to the natural progression of each track with its twists and turns. Though mostly trudging along with a slow speed it in an album where one moment you are in the midst of sleepy jam only to be broken by the copious bass of Merethe, and though there are jams dotted throughout the release the band does show a proclivity towards more structured songs. Though this release is mostly instrumental, enveloped in a smoke with mystical purging qualities, High Priest of Saturn is a part of the new wave of doom bands where the leading member is a female and to call her voice angelic or like that of a siren would be gross understatement. It is her performance on the bass as well on the mic that bind the band together which such malleability so as to create an extremely fluid release and it is her flexibility during the vocals that thrust the band to higher grounds of greatness. At times crooning, at times soft spoken, almost ethereal and at times singing at a powerful lower register, she has come up with a performance that has set the bar very high for both current as well as future ladies of doom. It’s not all about Merethe. Though she does add an air of mystery around the band and is the bands most distinguishing feature, it also the axework of Andreas and Martin who without following of trends have set out to create a path of their own with their dreamy guitars and lengthy solos that transport the listener into a soothingly whimsical world of musical therapy. I often wonder why bands that play heavy psychedelic rock never use the influences laid down by the grandmasters of the genre, Pink Floyd, but here the band put that question to rest and play solos reminiscent of the great band including one on the track ‘Crawling King Snake’ which sound like something Floyd would have played during their ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ days.

All this held together by the organ played by the magic fingers of session member Kristian has by alchemy created this unique experience and has had got this band functioning in a territory where not many seemed to have dared to explore. This is as original, and as different as different can get in the modern day of stoner. It is a genuine, frank, straight forward and heartfelt release without the pretentiousness and without the over reliance of paths already well set and is an impeccable debut that is an absolute must have for all fans of the genre.

SCORE - 77/100 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Cardinal Wyrm - Another Holy Trinity


When the whole metal movement was started and as it slowly started to gain momentum the attitude that embodied this music form was that of an unhinged expression of self and not really caring what others wanted. It was all about the music and the joy of being a miniscule part of something huge. However as time went on, all the various sub genres of music slowly got submissive towards the lure of money and instead of being an unadulterated and pure outpouring of one’s deepest emotions  turned into producing that what others wanted, and thus turned into everything that the metal movement was opposed to. However amidst all this doom metal stood its ground, reminding them what the genre was all about and stayed away from trends and this is possibly the biggest reason why the doom genre is as big as it is today. The hallowed grounds of doom remain so because of the fans and the numerous bands those remain true to themselves and to metal. Also, another reason why the genre continues to flourish is the continuous emergence of new bands that with their, often unique take on this genre expand the fan base of doom and the keep the current ones proud to be hardcore fans of the genre, and joining the army of this doom metal movement is three piece Bay area based band collectively known as ‘Cardinal Wyrm’.

Looking at the artwork that adorns this unique piece of music which as described by its creator and bassist Marcelle Marais in her words as "inspired by what is beneath the surface of the human form. That was my main driving force. My artwork is inspired by the recomposing and decomposing cycles of life, the journey of the soul through suffering, despair, hope, faith, love ecstasy, betrayal, lust, reparation and strength. So, I find it fits in well with our music.” leaves the onlooker enthralled to say the least. While most bands create artwork that almost instantaneously bring to mind what kind of music is encapsulated within it, this is the kind that keeps the beholder guessing and thinking. It is the kind of expression one can create not by following one’s peers and predecessors but is only possible from an unabashed emotional outpouring stemming from the deepest entrails, a trait that most bands seem to be missing nowadays. To call Cardinal Wyrm another doom band in the hordes present today would be a gross vituperation, the music itself being as unique and often as hard hitting as the artwork.

Necessity, they say is the mother of creation, and in this case certainly was. Tired of black metal influenced crust bands with tinny riffs and continuous screaming the band set out on creating something that reeked and permeated doom metal through and through and after a few line up changes put out their debut album entitled ‘Another Holy Trinity’ in the April of 2013. Describing this peculiar piece of music that stretches over 5 tracks and lasts 49 minutes isn’t exactly a cakewalk since the band have done some major thinking out of the box and in the process stayed away from conventional music tags. The music that the band play not only revolves around the nucleus of doom metal but also acts as a portal between the past and the present with influences from 90‘s sludge to the occult drenched doom of the 10’s to name a few. The way the band concocts this unique mesh wherein you can hear the malevolent aggression of Church Of Misery as well and long drawn out passages that take the listener into the stoner influenced unknown expanses of the unknown is laudatory. Cardinal Wyrm bastes with utmost repose into this already unique mix influences ranging from epic doom styling of early Solitude Aeternus and maddeningly gargantuan sludgy riffs. Though mostly mid paced the tempo changes often ranging from the snail paced lumbering advances on tracks like ‘The Procession of the Gilded Wyrm’ to all out ragers like my favorite track on the album ‘The Circle’.  Another thing that grabbed my attention here was the immense out of variation present here. On one hand if you have the well channeled grit of inordinately copious riffs on ‘The Rope’, you also have the long forgotten art of the art of dirty, aggressive, angry, filthy and violent attitude of the punk influenced, feedback drowned sludge of the early ‘s ala Noothgrush and Acid Bath on ‘Ruin’.  As the oppressively down tuned guitars of Natan are bolstered the brutally heavy plodding basswork by Marcelle the band moves forward with a swagger that sometimes resonates of utter destruction and at other times is reminiscent of some unholy ritual in full flow in an abandoned forest. The performance that warrants special mention though is that of Pranjal Tiwari who along with supporting the band with his drum work has slapped us with some of most versatile and unique vocals I have ever heard. With influences from the authoritative epic doom preaching of Messiah Marcolin or Robert Lowe, he also wanders into territory so well established by Hour of 13‘s Phil Swanson’s occult drenched vocal delivery only to morph into an alter ego spewing forth some of the most mephitic and toxic guttural vocals which with its hostility acts as the glue to create a sound that Cardinal Wyrm an call its own.

With a continuous undercurrent of emotion permeating throughout this release, the band has created a varied release which at times abrasive and other times slightly melodic makes sure the attention of the listener never meanders elsewhere throughout the album which flows foreword with extreme fluidity where each tempo change, each riff and each section of each song has been placed only after utmost thought to aesthetics and so as to have the greatest impact possible on the listener. There is nothing much like this out there at the moment and ‘Another Holy Trinity’ deserves your attention and is something that the connoisseur of doom will certainly enjoy.

SCORE - 82/100

Friday, March 22, 2013

Boudain - Boudain


My love for doom metal over the years has compounded in leaps and bounds. As I delved deeper and deeper into the murky mystery filled underground of the genre it was only so long that you came across Doommatia, and it seemed as if I had hit the jackpot. A highly active site, the amount of information it had, backed by real time updates and writers, who with unbridled passion brought forth the latest of the underground happenings and unholy spawns, was the biggest catalyst to expand the boundaries of the genre. I always wished to contribute something to the doom metal underground, and when I was given an opportunity to join the writing crew here, it was a dream come true.

The first band I was asked to review by Ed was the self titled EP released by a band that goes by the name of ‘Boudain’ which is a four piece out of Monroe, Louisiana. I sadly cannot give you much more information about the band, since nothing more is available on their facebook or bandcamp page.  The music that ‘Boudain’ plays encompasses the inordinately copious riffs of early ‘Acid Bath’, the sense of groove of stoner bands like ‘Spiritual Beggars’ and an aura that reeks of the all out surge of extremely well channeled grit which was the core aesthetic characteristic of a certain ‘Kyuss’ showing the greatest proclivity towards the classic ‘When the Kite String Pops’ by ‘Acid Bath’ as can be witnessed in the oppressively down-tuned guitars as well as the song structures.  As both the band name and artwork encapsulate within itself the thick meaty music that awaits the next lucky victim one has to admire the vocals which reminiscent of ‘Dax Riggs’ doesn't hold back its hostility and are spewed forth with such bile that they add a great deal of character and seem a perfect fit with the maddened gargantuan sludgy riffs. As the drums bash forth the colossal riffs and the bands moves ahead with a swagger that permeates of utter destruction one has to tip their hat to the song writing present here. It was with utmost ease that the band manoeuvres from the slow heavy duty thunderous riffs to a more up tempo pace with its stretched out solos that are an instant throwback to long drives in the sun baked deserts made famous by Fu Manchu.  Whether the band is playing the infectiously catchy stoner rock leanings of ‘Just Got Paid’ which has the innate sense of being able to start a riot among stoner fans anywhere or the skull crushingly heavy riffs on ‘Moonshinin'’ they never stray from their pivotal aim of creating a highly fluid EP that is one of the heaviest pieces of music you will ever come across. Right from the uncompromisingly titanic riffs of opener ‘Slavemen’ to the ramblings of ‘Trailerpark’ which bring to your visual eye a man who is about break all hell loose and the deliciously brilliant main riff of ‘King Of The Cosmos’  the bass work is simply exceptional and instead of just plodding around adds an immense layer of density and thrusts the band towards greater things with its driving bass riffs as witnessed on tracks like ‘Kalifornia’.

‘Boudain’ released this debut after almost 7 years of its formation which took place back in 2006 and with the frequent tempo and mood changes, though the element of heaviness being a constant throughout , the band has released some really dynamic and powerful stuff that leaves you wanting more. An extremely boisterous and fresh release, keep your eyes of this foursome here, who release their debut on the 20th of April later this year.

SCORE - 73/100

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Kröwnn - Hyborian Age


I cannot stress this enough and I know I have said this way more times than I can count, but the combination of Italy and doom is so egregious, so profoundly beautiful and possesses such an innate sense of class, all the while being topped with such a sense of dynamism, that one has to believe that if you like doom in all its down tuned thundering glory and cannot get enough of the genre along with its vast sub-genres then a better scene than Italy doesn’t exist. Out of the country that has graced us with the eccentric mad genius of doom that is Paul Chain, the monolithic dirge draped Abysmal Grief and the incomprehensible conglomeration of doom and progressive rock in a way never dreamed of before by Black Hole, the country, overflowing with musicians of such unfathomable talent and love for doom that happily dives into the territory of fanaticism, has bestowed upon us a new trio that goes by the name of ‘Kröwnn’.

Kröwnn was formed in the summer of 2012 in Venice and has Michele el Lello Carnielli handling the duties of both lead singer as well as guitarist and is backed by two ladies going by the names of Silvia Selvaggia Rossato and Elena Fiorenzano handling the bass guitar and drums respectively.  They released their rather lengthy debut demo entitled ‘Hyborian Age’ spanning almost 40 minutes spread out almost evenly over the six tracks. A cursory look at the artwork leaves you enthralled and curious. A wizard gazes at you standing at an edge of a desert while moons and stars of different colors dot the sky and a gargantuan beast resembling a woolly mammoth roams freely as smoke rises. Combine that imagery with the title of this release and you put together the pieces of the puzzle that give you the thematic proclivity of the band which is an utter reverence towards the fantasy worlds created by authors such as Howard, Moorcock, Tolkien and Martin as well an undying love towards Conan The Barbarian, a topic that fits the genre of doom metal perfectly with all its masculinity and yet is not discussed enough.

Needless to say, Kröwnn play doom metal that has a predilection towards the old school and though they gyrate around power riffs the trio often manoeuvre towards the spectrum of stoner territories and even baste them together with the utmost of repose. However, don’t expect, expansive soundscapes depicting meandering into the sun baked desert or the journeys into the psychedelia induced unknown expanses, but instead take a look at the artwork, drawn in all it warm soothing colors and experience rather a laid back wall of fuzzy sound that acts as in impressive weapon to a strong repertoire of the band. An extremely consistent and fluent release what is truly amazing is their sound writing and how the band manages to string together pieces and form one coherent track after another. Right from the epic feel of the ‘For the Throne of Fire’ which is an instant throwback to ‘Nightfall’ era ‘Candlemass’ or the groove draped stoner embracing that were atypical of ‘The Ethereal Mirror’ era of ‘Cathedral’ on ‘The Woodwose’ each track has some new influences to showcase to listener which instead of sounding derivative and recycled come as a breath of fresh air on an already original release. As the quick choppy riffs of Pentagram and Trouble come to mind on some tracks the band also uses the soft strumming of the bass creating an almost fluid liquid sound as well as swirling riffs on ‘At the Cromlech’ to  remind the listener of later ‘Electric Wizard’. As the trio also throws in elements of hard rock to create catchy choruses and infectious riffs, what is to be noticed is the different moods on each track. If you have ‘Gods of Magnitogorsk’ to sound as the perfect theme to the fight scene in Conan you also have to deal with the depths of desolate despair on ‘The Melnibonean’. If you enjoyed the classic all out rock out parts on ‘At the Cromlech’ you are also subjugated towards going on a trip with the trio through the desert on the lengthy instrumental ‘Stormborn’.

As the lo-fi demo production and feedback a la ‘Sleep’ grips your mind with all its swampy filth you have to give a special mention to Michele. His highly emotive voice thrusts the band all along and has a range that is reminiscent of Messiah Marcolin on the epic parts, the deep sunken bellowing of Glenn Danzig and is at times even reminiscent of ‘Type Negative O’s great Peter Steele in all its sepulchral, forlorn driven power when deciding to sing on a higher register.  Throughout the demo the band permeates an esoteric intelligence by showing it knows what it wants backed by an unbridled creativity of the instruments through which the bands can bring forth unto the listener what the band needs. The song writing and song placing on the album is another brilliant feature innate here and how the band pendulums between the stoner and doom territories, often holding hands of both is truly a testament to the band and its ability to stand out in a genre that is over saturated with bands where the general norm is shelling out recycled Sabbathian riffs backed by no emotion.

Hopefully, these guys can land a record deal, and if they do, I hope they get an opportunity to re record this demo since the lo-fi production takes away a bit of the punch, which if professionally recorded will be a massive one.Keep this beast of a demo in mind. It is one of the best stuff I've heard from a new band for a while, and this is a sign of things to come from ‘Kröwnn’ then brace yourself for a brilliant journey.

SCORE - 78/100

Monday, March 18, 2013

Howling - A Beast Concieved


Death metal never really died. Though the golden era lasted from 1983 – 1996, bands continued to play the genre and amidst bands like Immolation who kept churned out a string of egregious releases and while bands like! T.O.O.H.!, Repugnant, Funebrarum, Runemagick, Stargazer and Azarath produced death metal gems to keep the flame of the death metal torch alive, the scene wasn't very good. However, in 2008, when Razorback Records spewed forth releases from Decrepitaph, Hooded Menace, Acid Witch and Crypticus to name a few in all its 80’s horror/slasher gore soaked glory, it in the process sent such shock-waves within the death metal underground that it revived the genre as a whole and the quality of death metal has flourished cogently ever since.

Enter Howling. A mere look at the logo with its worms, monstrous claws, nests of skulls and oozing muck, all draped in an eerie yellow glow and you know where this band comes from.  The album cover, which depicts a women being torn apart by a couple of ghastly werewolves in the midst of some woods, is drawn by the amazing slasher design artist Justin Osbourn only reiterates the bands thematic proclivity. Screaming classic Razorback in its appearance, the band boasts of Vanessa Nocera on vocals, who has gained quite some popularity in the metal scene because of being signed onto Razorback Records, and for well, being a female. Her vocals alternate between deeply throaty and  gargling screams, and can be seen as a cross between Carcass’ Jeff Walker and Arch Enemy’s Angela Gossow, Tony P on guitars and Elektrokutioner on drums, who for his tireless love for the 80’s and endless bands like Father Befouled, Beyond Hell and Encoffination has gained quite the cult underground following. 

Lasting 38 minutes and spanning 10 tracks, the album unsurprisingly starts off with the howl of a wolf, as the band pays its tributes to cult horror movie classics like The Beast Within, Mountaintop Motel Massacre, and American Gothic. Expect no down tuned goodness or goregrind frenzy, the band in question plays straightforward death metal. Though the roots of the band are firmly rooted in the death metal spectrum influences from the early thrash scene and Carcass are also heard. Another thing that is atypical of the release are the rather long melodic solos in almost each track that are reminiscent of Heartwork era Carcass. In all the blood soaked carnage, the trio show some respectable song writing skills on tracks like ‘As Man Becomes Lycanthrope’ and ‘Six Souls for the Witching Hour’ with its numerous tempo changes and well placed , well constructed, long melodic solos . Nothing overly technical and complex, the band follow the rather underused formula of keeping things simple and effective with catchy riffs and melodic hooks on tracks like ‘Savage Psychosis’. Though the band is usually mid tempo, the band often crosses the territory in face pummeling speeds with an absolute rager of a track in ‘Demented Debauchery’ which along with ‘Six Souls for the Witching Hour’ has riffs that are reminiscent of Arghoslent’s ‘Hornets of the Pogrom’.  As the band slowly builds up to ‘Traumatic Transmutations’, my favorite track here with its early Metallica influenced intro, mid-paced tempo and infectiously catchy riffs, you have to appreciate the bands tenacity and passion.

Though Howling desperately try to keep things fresh and unpredictable with the bass intros and a riff that would be better suited on a stoner album in ‘A Night in the Crypt’ they start losing all momentum on around the fifth track, rapidly inundated in the murky quicksand atmosphere the band had managed to so masterfully and profoundly contrive with its effective song writing and esoteric pacing. It is around here that the band permeates an aura of trying too hard, with failed results and falling flat on its face. As smoothly as the earlier tempo changes and transitions were, as forced and abrasive are the textural changes are now. Vanessa alternates too many times, too fast between her shrieks and growls and in the process absolves the band of all its liquidity thus making a relative short release also trudge along.  The band, especially Vanessa displays a knack for trying too hard to prove a point and instead of just taking the back seat and giving the guitars their breathing space, often indulges in the overboard spectrum, all the while taking center stage, growling and screaming when there be no need for such frippery, and drowning out the rest of the band, which is quite a shame, since, in pure Razorback fashion, the star of the show is once again the guitarwork masterfully done by Tony P, which often erupts into carving a gore soaked path of its own , though never does too much, and basks in an aura that screams of how well the final impact of each break in tempo and each towering solo or each sharp choppy riff was thought of. Though the band shows shades of gearing up for a final hurrah on the final track ‘When the Hills Ran Red’ it slowly decimates into an overly long, disappointing affair as well.

Such an amateurish performance is not acceptable by any standards especially when one has seasoned veterans in the band and when one has been able to create a strong first half. As refreshing as it was to see Razorback trying something new in its overplayed ‘80’s horror death metal’ card with the inclusion of melodic hooks and solos which are easily the bands strong point, it is as disappoint and heart wrenching to see a potentially good album being thrown down the drain.

SCORE - 50/100

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Nibiru - Caosgon


Trust the hub of weird and original doom, Italy, to come up with something refreshing in a genre that is too over stuffed, too unoriginal and too weak to experiment and try something that is not the widely accepted conventional norm. However active the stoner and sludge scenes today might be it cannot be denied that most are just run of the mill Electric Wizard, Sleep and Queens of the Stone Age worship (unless you’re from Germany), and within this saturated realm, a vortex of originality has stepped in a',three piece going by the name Nibiru, and they bring with them a breath of fresh, questionable air.

Nibiru, are a new band, which formed late in 2012 and have self released their debut album entitled ‘Caosgon’.  Nibiru’s music can be described as a portal between the music of the past and the present. Though it has one foot in the boat driven by the likes of Sleep with its hazy elongated riffs immersed deep in the background, it has its other foot ingrained in the roots of early 60’s psychedelic rock with long trips into the psychedelia infused unexplained expanses. With an immensely drowned out production, like the ones adopted recently by Windhand and Saturnalia Temple one discerns as if the music is emanating from deep within your subconscious, and once you wrap your head around that, underlie this with the simmering anger of entire ancestral tribes, all the while heavily laced with long ambient passages that are atramentous, stygian, ritualistic and bleak, and still possesses within them a sense of all that is unholy and the forbidden occult and you have the description of the music made by Nibiru.

If this wasn't enough to warrant bubbles of excitement and a self inquiring attitude, the ingredient that endows the most towards the trio’s sound both stylistically and aesthetically are the vocals which are extremely guttural and throaty. The vocals, which are deeply laden in reverb and echo are reminiscent of ancient throat singing techniques used by tribes in places like Malaysia and Africa, and alternate between growled and clean and gives an added dimension and an experience which I have never in my musical journey ever encountered before. Though the band emanates a clean sound most of the time, feedback isn't a rare phenomenon giving the music the feeling of filth but another prominent idiosyncrasy of the music is the gargantuan amount of attention given to the bass guitar. Taking of most of the playing time, the bass is an entity of its own, the bass interludes, whether a short strum or a powerful splurge, interspersed with the ritualistic drums and the smoky atmosphere gives the band an extremely dense feeling that permeates throughout the 5 tracks that run over 50 minutes. Such an odd use of instruments and choices gives the band the atmosphere they intent to create which is that of a moon bathed dense forest where the listener is subject to a highly psychedelic ritual and the wrath of an entire tribe, and as the tribal shaman does his violent ritualistic dance, his mask glistening in the moon light, you still possess a sense of calm.

Though the band does shift from its usual mid paced tempo to higher paced on tracks like ‘Smashanam, the crematorium ground of Kaly’ and experiments with its soundscape while embracing its ritual vocal sound the tightest on tracks like ‘Aster Argos’, the song writing for a concoction as original and with a thought pattern like this, is highly derivative. Though the songs move on with extreme fluidity lubricated by the emotional performances of the band members and blend of instruments like the liturgic organ and the cowbell with the rare Hawkwind-esque spacey passages thrown in, there are no massive upheavals in sound or enough variations to keep this dynamic enough. Though interesting and adventurous, a trait that most metal seems to be missing today, a lot is left to be desired and the scope of improvement for the band is rather massive. ‘Caosgon’ certainly deserves your attention, but it is an experience only the connoisseur of the sludge genre will want to take a chance upon to quench their thirst for innovative music. Still, the band has easily managed to strum my brain strings enough to keep them in mind and look forward to more from them in the future.

SCORE - 63/100