While the core sound behind Book Of Wyrms has always been a balance between Doom Metal and Space Rock, their third album sees the band committing much more to the latter. Occult New Age (Desert Records) retains the methodical tempos and some of the beefy riffs of 2019’s Remythologizer but ultimately devotes its atmospheric ends to lighter textures and looser structures. The heavier sequences have more in common than Kyuss than Cathedral and their underlying Hawkwind influence had previously never been highlighted to this extent.
The band dynamic reflects these adjustments, keeping their tripped-out demeanor with some flavor modifications. The bass and guitar work together to form a Seventies-friendly foundation as the former seems to predominately drive the riff work while the latter paints the tone with flailing leads, plodding chords, and the occasional scorched lick. On the flip side, the vocals seem to have taken a step back this time around. The ethereal performance remains pleasant and suiting for the material but ends up buried in the mix. The keyboards also don’t seem to be as prominent as usual but there are enough synth patches and psychedelic touches in the guitar/bass interplay to make up for it.
Thankfully, the songwriting is as multifaceted as their previous works. The eight-minute ‘Hollergoblin’ is a strong centerpiece, starting with an extended instrumental introduction that sees that spaciness out in full force before eventually yielding to a fast-paced climax. Elsewhere, ‘Colossal Yield’ features a particularly swinging Kyuss groove while ‘Keinehora’ reaches back to the previous albums with its ominously restrained riff set. The two-minute ‘Albironlilly’ also stands out as an enjoyable acoustic interlude, even if I am low-key expecting the ‘Roundabout’ bass line to kick in at any second.
As with their previous albums, Occult New Age does a splendid job of highlighting Book Of Wyrms’ Space Doom-style from a different angle. The album reminds me of an even more psychedelic Lucifer, offering some tight musicianship and memorable writing amidst the atmospheric meandering. There is some give and take as the guitar and bass work makes up for the somewhat diminished vocal presence, but it ultimately evens out to be an enjoyable experience. Remythologizer might still be my preferred entry but Occult New Age will likely end up growing even more on me.
Buy the album here: https://bookofwyrms.bandcamp.com/album/occult-new-age
8 / 10