Keeper / Sea Bastard – 12″ split

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Sea Bastard, Brighton’s kings of monstrous doom, have made a huge impression in 2014 with their sophomore full-length Scabrous (Mosh Tuneage / Dry Cough), and here they set out to reinforce their place in the murky backwaters of the psyche with the more than able assistance of Californian duo Keeper.

There’s a track each on this nefarious ‘split’, issued by Dry Cough in Europe and soon by Medusa Crush in the US and both are of the nastiest, most monumental evil imaginable, running to 35 minutes in total. Keeper’s contribution, ‘777’, is a mere bagatelle at fourteen minutes, but is the kind of blackened doom immediately evoking comparison with Indian and Lord Mantis,Penny Keats‘ hateful scream coating claustrophobic atmospheres and rhythms veering from sparing and slow to an oppressive swell. The pace of the verse structure is torturous, dictated by tolling riffs and Keats’ resonant percussion, really allowing the harrowing horror to wind freely around the gut. It’s gloriously uncomfortable and twitch-inducing, with the squalling lead feedback of the last few moments utterly nerve-shredding.

The ‘Bastard’s twenty-minute stroll through the swamps, ‘Astral Rebirth’, is a lumbering, jurassic behemoth stalking its prey. The intake of breath prior to Ian ‘Monty’ Montgomery‘s vocal commencement is as effective and portentous as the ensuing delivery, a murderously deep and slow growl which suits Oli Irongiant’s funereal riffs, Steve Patton’s bass prowl and George Leaver‘s fearful, summoning drums. The central riff section is about as downturned as it’s possible to get, with a wailing lead undercurrent, and when that voice kicks back in to introduce a tribal quickening it is both brutal and terrifying – that lead showing brief periods of frenetic explosion which add to the slow, chopping destruction in the latter stages.

There’s a controlled brutality here, heavier yet just as ominous, this is from a dark place which no soul should inhabit but thank God for us listeners they do. Nod majestically at the front, ye worshippers, this is a mighty, frightening split highlighting the best aspects of two bands whose diseased outlook is matched by their deliberate, tolling power.

8.5/10

Keeper on Facebook

Sea Bastard on Facebook

PAUL QUINN

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

Sea Bastard on Facebook

Steve Tovey