Nottingham duo Bismuth, as its name implies, is renowned for its crushing, unflinching take on Doom and Drone. Sophomore album The Slow Death Of The Great Barrier Reef (Medusa Crush Recordings) is largely comprised of the thirty-two minute title track and is as moving as it is difficult, as absorbing as it is challenging.Continue reading →
This torturously heavy UK trio Monoliths is so recently formed that I couldn’t dig up anything on them for weeks. Knowing that it was comprised of members from Bismuth, Moloch and Ommadon, however, enlightened me to my fate for the following half-hour.
Getting crushed by a Fuck-off monster of a traction engine. If our US cousins aren’t too sure what one of those is…well, it’s not an easy way to go. The first of two colossal tracks on début Monoliths (Dry Cough Records /Crown & Throne Ltd.), ‘Perpetual Motion’, begins and ends with a disturbing fuzz that leaves you in no doubt what’s coming and, in closing, what has just been. Tanya Byrne’s swerving bass thrum knocks you off your feet but, as the track ebbs and flows, nuances appear as mini-crescendos swirling around the mind. David Tobin’s solo breaks the Om-esque hypnosis which the terrifying riff and Henry Davies’ wondrously tempered drums hammer through the solar plexus, hardly breaking the lumbering pace yet bewitching the senses with its pulverising might. I’m not usually one for instrumentals but this carries me to far-off lands on the back of a yeti.
The monumental, everlasting pummel of ‘The Omnipresence of Emptiness’ takes a short while to move through the volume, and to that familiar bass bellow. Yet when the whole thing crashes together it is a life-ending implosion, carrying depth and weight suitable for the occasion. Missing the latent groove of its forefather, subsequently this is the harder track with which to find an immediate affinity until the most unnerving, horrifying roar introduces a shattering solo. It’s here where one realises the flattening power of the drums, while the other ingredients of this plundering sortie become so unfathomably heavy I completely lost where I was, bemused by the sheer weight yet moved by a scintilla of emotion.
Look, this is no epiphany. It is, however, a near-perfect slab of evil Doom and an excuse for lovers of this stuff to completely lose their shit. In making something usually so monotonous and pulverising sound immediate, occasionally moving, and unmissable, Monoliths prove themselves an essential addition to the Low-end canon.
If Undersmile’s snail-like tempo is too slow for you, stop now. On debut album Unavailing (Dry Cough), Nottingham duo Bismuth coats that pace in a warm yet evil fuzz, every chord bringing the world crashing down around your ears with a weight similar to a Sea Bastard riff.
What the listener will find here is that the ingredients and tension build ever so gradually until the willing victim is uncomfortably writhing in their seat. Opener ‘Tethys’ does all of this yet closes with a delicate, lamenting final movement: extremely reminiscent of the aforementioned Undersmile, but with Tanya Byrne’s smooth harmonies more in tune with Windhand’s Dorthia Cottrell.
A sparingly picked, torturously slow acoustic riff leads the ensuing ‘Of the Weak Willed’, and for the first half of this sixteen-minute epic that’s really all that happens. Then comes the slightest change, a crawling increase in volume; and the hushed, singular drumbeat of Joe Rawlings that’s been whispering in the background for some time, alongside a mournful intonation, is suddenly very noticeable. Here is the magic of this hidden gem of a band: by the track’s three-quarter point, where the crushing mass and Byrne’s guttural screams are seamlessly and almost surreptitiously reintroduced, the increase in pressure has been so smoothly executed that it’s been with you like an old friend by the time you realise it’s there.
Following sinister, solitary drumbeats, the odd, sporadic bass notes of ‘The Holocene Extinction’ begin that building process all over again into a crawling, horrific echo: the riff city-levelling, the rasping howls a seduction into Hell. Closer ‘Solitude and Emptiness’ is the oddity of the set: its hypnotic beats and oscillating, pulverising pummel being of a slightly faster ilk and disembowelling from the off, the second period’s return to a slower template still crushing yet evoking the spirit of the track’s title.
Silence is often a great thing and, for us Low-end freaks, it’s an essential part of the listening experience. It augments this delightfully horrific album, another cracker from the Dry Cough stable and an exercise in creative perfection. Rest assured it will warm the cockles of those who love their riffs to be colossal and their aural terror to be slooooowww…