Four years ago, Bast’s Spectres (Burning World Records) hit the racks and quickly gained a reputation as one of the best British underground debuts of recent times. The world seemed to be the Blackened Sludge trio’s oyster yet, save for a smattering of gigs here and there, they seemed to vanish and earn mythical status in the process.
From nowhere, the advent of new album Nanoångstrӧm (Black Bow Records) has set tongues wagging in many a Metal sub-genre, in a fervour of expectation and excitement. The deep, shimmering intro ‘Distant Suns’ is undoubtedly a precursor to the onset of hell, and the sudden explosion of ‘Far Horizons’ merely confirms this. There’s plenty of hostile bluster, and a powerful depth to the hulking rhythms, but despite a marching poignancy to the cascading middle section and a pounding, pensive coda there’s something missing, a progression one hoped for but can’t yet see.
‘The Beckoning Void’ has an obsidian beginning, a Black heart surrounded by beefy rhythms and star-shot guitars. Jon Lee’s titanic drumming dictates power as well as pace, while Craig Bryant’s sparing chords are the star ingredient in a wistful middle movement which finally sees the invention, the Prog leanings, we’ve been wanting.
The magnificent title track, meanwhile, sees that shimmering riff take on a movie soundtrack vibe while maintaining the mammoth weight of its predecessor, a Conan-esque Caveman Doom duelling with Bryant’s incredible leadwork and Gavin Thomas’ earthshaking bass. This introduces an intricate, mind-blowing second half which rediscovers the band’s identity while forging a sparkling, mighty new path.
The Funereal ‘A Red Line Through Black’, in its outset, is somewhat reminiscent of Yob’s wondrous ‘Marrow’: the initial vocal harsh yet melodic, all of the ingredients gaining more import, with Bryant’s guitar shining brightly in both riff and melancholic chimes. The second movement rumbles and screams through the swell, a bitterness building to violent crescendo which blasts into the closing ‘The Ghosts Which Haunt the Space Between the Stars’: a shuddering monstrosity which carries a NWOBHM beat through a Blackened Death core. Here the band reaches a fulminating majesty: its third mark a sparkling battery of stars; the mid-point harrowing and reflective, growing into the staggeringly dark and emotive final movement; a Blackened, wounded heart, expressing its rancour yet trying to force all who will listen towards a new dawn.
If it wasn’t for the initial humdrum, we could be discussing the follow-up of all time here. Instead Bast has eventually, after that sticky start, produced an album worthy of mention in the same sentence as Spectres and which points to a potential future legendary status.