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. Continue reading →
With a sense of longing Bast’s debut Spectres(Burning World) eases itself into the speakers, as ‘In The Beginning’ whispers a post-Black Metal (minus the shoegaze) prelude to what is to come, a Wolves In The Throne Room vibe permeating the waves of the first 5 minutes, before seguing into a heavier, doomier latter section. Excellently crafted, for an opening track it serves to not only introduce you to the melancholy of the band, but also their versatility and diversity, a bonus in an age of bands defining themselves within and of a singular sub-genre.
‘Denizens’ picks up the doomier mantle, stretching epic darkness reminiscent of Anathema’s Pentecost IIIthat lurches into faster, eloquent post-Black Metal before bringing things back to the Peaceville doom via some tremolo picked guitar. Vocalist Craig Bryant showcases adaptability, gruff in the darker sections, and with a Winterfylleth tone to his black metal throat-rips.
Title-track ‘Spectres’ is up next, with a more traditional, upbeat flavour to its doom-tinged blackened metal, like My Dying Bride playing Darkthrone before hitting an unexpected head-nodding stoner groove. Sprawling closing pair ‘Psychonauts’ and ‘Outside The Circles Of Time’ build with post-Metal excellence, the former creating genuine tension and a feeling of building and foreboding without release, while ‘Outside…’ is a bleak downer that calls to mind Neurosis and with its 11 minute frame stretching, uncoiling, brooding, closes the album as we began, but this time with the gruff vocals juxtaposing with the Deafheaven melodic black metal beauty underneath.
Far from being schizophrenic, despite moving between three distinct genres, the quality of the writing makes this a seamless and thoroughly rewarding listen. For a debut that throws up comparisons to Altar of Plagues and ISIS, and much in between, this is a highly accomplished set of compositions that belies their early stage of development.
Spectres is dissonant, brave and intelligent, displaying a great album dynamic, as Bast take the listener with them through an expertly sound-scaped journey of post-Black Metal, UK doom and out the other side into the cold, harsh world of post-Metal. Continue down this path, and the follow-up should be some album.