Tommy Stewart, lynchpin of Doom outfits Hallows Eve, Bludy Gyres and Dyrewulf, is not a man to allow moss to sprout betwixt his tootsies. After last year’s mammoth Bludy Gyres contribution to Rope Enough For Two (Black Doomba Records), their split with Dayglo Mourning, comes Negative Wall: a new project formed with long-time cohort Dennis Reid and guitarist Don Cole.
Debut album Gammagelu (Black Doomba Records) is a four-track, half-hour journey through fictional space commencing with ‘Imperii Exiles (Galactic Visions)’: a slow crush of howling metallic riffs, eerie keys and a pensive bassline, with Stewart’s vocal coming across like a twisted alchemy of Mike Scheidt and Bruce Dickinson. Cole provides some stunning leadplay while Reid smashes his kit with a brutal yet metronomic control, displaying mastery in dictating the ebb and flow of a fluctuating second movement.
‘Hybrid Genus Serpentis’ begins with chords and tinkles which emit a Pearl Jam-esque lightness, until the riff and drums kick in with a slothlike tempo that doesn’t disguise the crunching power. That Yob link returns, this time accompanying some smooth, lazy harmonies that evoke Layne Stayley’s much-missed velvet tones, and more dazzling leadplay in the mid-section.
‘Mater Saeva Kp22’ adds wondrous percussion to this hypnotic mix, with bongos and tambourine raising Asian rhythms alongside a crushing riff that nevertheless swerves and writhes under the lead spikes.
The closing track is a cover of Electric Wizard’s ‘Torquemada 71’ and a sudden thickness in the air complements this. A gloriously slow but rollicking rhythm is given the background growl of guitar but when those strings wail, the track rips. Without carrying the evil feel of the Wizard, Stewart’s holler carries more urgency than Jus Oborn’s original and the whole is a joyous, faithful representation.
When an album has you roaring and playing air guitar as you walk down the street, it’s obviously doing something right. There are no groundbreaking moments of jaw-dropping magnificence but this is a bloody enjoyable, spaced-out romp that you’ll treat like a new mate. Cracking stuff.
7 / 10