Sea Bastard – Scabrous

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The gardens of Doom have never been more fertile than in England’s gray and fetid lands in 2014. Conan and The Wounded Kings may head the pack with two of the best releases of the first quarter, but shuffling like battle-jacket clad Walkers, are a host of low-end, funereal paced dirtbags, headed by Brighton’s Sea Bastard.

With a guitar tone drenched in silt and dirt, the very elements of sludge, straining against the constraints of amplification turned to maximum, a crushing chord stab fighting feedback begins this extreme doom assault over a tempo that if a heart rate would mean near-death. Vocalist Monty spits turgid death metal growls before settling into his more trademark feral tones. And so Scabrous (Mosh Tunage) has begun, resplendent in bleak, violent, extreme doom.

Good doom works through being slab-heavy and repetitious, luring you into a zone. Great doom works through being slab-heavy and hypnotically repetitious, instilling a barren feeling of hopelessness over a drawn-out time period, where the first 13 minutes feels like 4, and this is opener, the excellent ‘Nokken’, which then explodes unexpectedly in a massive chugging riff-frenzy, leaving you pummelled and bloodied until it’s 17 minute girth has unfurled.

‘Nightmares of the Monolith’ follows in, bringing things back to a graveyard tempo and an early Peaceville UK doom feel, Oli Irongiant wrenching dark riffs and chords from the neck of his guitar, maintaining an ominous atmosphere before bringing things down to a twisted sludge. ‘Door Sniffer’ serves as a perfect lead-in to the megalithic 20 minute closer ‘Metamorphic Possession’, both enhanced by prominent bass-work from Steve Patton, the former espousing more traditional Cathedral (Forest of Equilibrium) tones, the latter a sprawling, horrific epic of endurance.

Sea Bastard are too vile to appeal to the hipster, which is to their credit and hopefully won’t stunt their progression as this is a sickness that deserves to spread. At times channelling Iron Monkey, at others Celtic Frost’s Monotheist through a heroin filter, at all times vitally and vibrantly intensely heavy British Doom, Sea Bastard are not an easy listen for the extreme doom newcomer, but for the initiated Scabrous is a beautifully sickeningly dark and filthy album.

8.5/10

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Steve Tovey