In 2015, Liverpool-Manchester hybrid Bodies on Everest produced The Burning (self-release), a ferocious slab of ultra-heavy, underproduced despair which its creators christened ‘Dungeon Wave’ and which tragically glided under the radar. Three years later that Blackened Doom crash has been reinvented on follow-up A National Day of Mourning (Cruel Nature Records / Third I Rex): the minimalist production accompanied by a more pensive, Drone-led violence, offering up a suffocating dystopian nightmare. Continue reading
The seaside town of Brighton, UK, previously famous for its attractiveness to holidaying Londoners and its apparently sizeable gay population, is at present building a reputation as a haven of devastating Low-end music. Step forward Kalloused whose first foray into recorded output, Damn You Believer (Third I-Rex), begins with the suspense-laden ‘Pt 1’: a weighty tome which possesses a surprising yet subtle line in crunching but emotional guitar.
The PR notes accompanying Decathexis (Third-I Rex), the second album from Cagliari firebrands VIII, advise comparisons with Extreme experimentalists Deathspell Omega and Manes. The reality, however, is a progressive aural violence full of invention.
Opener ‘Symptom’s early exchanges see a stripped down, Blackened underpin, quirky in its structure and graced by WLKN’s snarled growl, suddenly tempered by maudlin drops which lend themselves to a Shoegaze feel. That Manes comparison manifests itself with a Jazzy sax, which introduces a dream-like sequence: a piano-led ambience; a street walk followed by a nightmarish descent through rapid atonal chords, Freeform pace changes and hostile growls, with those ivories beginning the road to a sample-laden coda in hair-raising fashion.
The early stages of the ensuing ‘Diagnosis’ beautifully blend an emotional, atmospheric Doom with more of that wistful saxophone and the kind of Deathly, downward spirals perfected by the likes of Pyrrhon. A meander through eerie gentleness is followed by a rampant, horrific explosion, the throat morphing from growl to Blackened rasp in a terrifying escalation of anger. This is the depiction of a war zone yet, replete with a subtle piano centrepiece, the apocalyptic, heartbreaking aftermath of battle is gloriously displayed also.
There’s a Blues-Punk edge to the bludgeon of closer ‘Prognosis’ which lends a more traditional edge but the experimentation is still evident: the sparing, neurotic riffs given a tremolo effect; the atmospheric blast of classical acoustic; the brief, gradual drop once again full of melancholy and portent. It’s WLKN’s voice which again provides the savagery, especially in the tolling, Avant-garde atonality of the second movement: his screams and whispers demonical in accompanying the hydraulic Industria and Marco Porcu’s staggering stickwork.
This constant movement through disparate fundamentals can lead to ‘Prognosis’ occasionally feeling a touch difficult to engage with, its cosmic yet serene finale an ineffectual end to the urgency of the previous 45 minutes. The whole is nevertheless an absorbing tour de force, its manic nature running in perfect tandem with a moving ambience to incite all manner of emotion. By no means an easy listen, Decathexis is nevertheless a hugely rewarding journey.
Finnish Doom has a habit of eliciting serious emotion, whether it be down to the plaintive melodies and atmospheres or the downright trudging pace. Arche have all of these characteristics in spades and, on this label reissue of their début EP Undercurrents (Third-I Rex), their heartbreaking Funeral dirge is presented to devastating effect.
Occasionally implosive, often brittle, the guitar work of opener ‘Plains of Lethe’ has acoustic and melancholic moments, the lead melodies slow, meaningful and occasionally evoking the wistful pattern of Swallow The Sun and Saturnus. The only voice here, however, is that of Profetus guitarist Eppe Kuismin, and it begins as a barely audible, whispered growl before its guttural roar introduces the final third in terrifying, solitary fashion. It’s here that the crushing weight of huge yet emotive riffs add a mighty chapter, despite the billowing atmospherics and subtle yet striking keys.
Those airs swirl around the depressive tumult of ‘Funereal Folds’, again graced by titanic riffs and reaching the edge of crescendo when that agonised, expiring roar enters the fray, yet retaining its stirring power with deliberate leadwork and wonderfully dictatorial drums. At times the monster rests, Bell Witch-like, appearing shattered and spent in its fight against fate yet unwilling to cede quietly, its power still resonating in the fulminating roar and beautiful chords. The drop to the coda is devastating, the acoustic tones tearing every heartstring asunder, and sparse yet hulking bass kicks reinforcing that Bell Witch comparison.
Quite simply this is a beautiful, staggering piece of work. Some feel that the mewling of pained leadwork has no place in a genre where to crush uncompromisingly is the aim; and in some acts it can often lose meaning. Arche, however, hit near alchemy and this morose, gorgeous, lonely behemoth deserves serious attention this time around.
2015 was a big year for Californian duo Keeper: the original issue of EP The Space Between Your Teeth following mere months after their mammoth split with Sea Bastard, and just weeks before an evil joint release with Canadians Old Witch. This reissue (Third I Rex) sees its two epic, crawling tracks get a fresh press and boy, do they deserve it.
The howling, lamenting guitar opening ‘The King’ decorates a Funeral pace before Penny Keats’ hideous, prurient larynx covers the body in unholy juices. A Blackened scream full of pain, evocative of ex-Lord Mantis rasper Charlie Fell, its relentless pitch is both unnerving and affecting. The weight of the brutal yet monolithic mid-section is pulverising and lifted only slightly by the evocative bass passages of Jacob Lee, so reminiscent of Dylan Desmond. This graces the final move toward a consuming, resounding swell: a euphoric yet terrible triumph, The Great Diseased railing to the skies against their plight.
Segueing seamlessly into ‘The Fool’, Keats’ slightly more uplifting drum pattern duels against the harrowing squall before a reverb-drenched riff accompanies more horrific utterances. With a filthier, more malevolent expression does the EP’s second half spew forth, creeping with similar intent to that of the girl emerging from the well in the remake of The Ring. It’s an oppressive sound yet, with the merest hint of quickened pace from those cleverly dictating drums, it is lifted from the occasionally turgid monotony: a gradually building wall of portent suddenly dropping into an utterly crushing mid-section. In raising the track back from the floor Keats’ voice assumes demonic proportions in both foetid hostility and power, underpinned by more subtle bass lead, until a barely controlled explosion seeps and squeals through the speakers, and alarming drums send the fulminating close careering into the dank earth.
It’s hard to acclaim a reissue as a tour de force, but this is as close as it gets. It’s a testing listen yet, for those of us with a more disgusting and slow musical palate, it’s an opportunity to bask in the most wondrous embodiment of acrid recrimination and ferocious protest.
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