(20 Buck Spin, 2014)
#FOR FANS OF: Black/Death Metal, Doom/Sludge, StarGazer, Crowbar
Never one to follow a strict releasing schedule, this third release from the Australian Black/Death Metal act comes four years after their last release, itself six years after the preceeding offering so there’s clearly no need to put out music constantly from the band with an output like that. Certainly, though, that relaxed pace has certainly caused a more relaxed vibe to enter their music for this band’s output is decidedly plain and quite sluggish, as the album rarely manages to make a lasting impact with its chosen style of primal Death Metal, Doom and Black Metal while laced with dashes of Sludge for what is a wildly inventive mix but one which doesn’t always make for entertaining listening. The slow, droning Doom tempos are mixed with brazen, heavy Sludge-like riffing patterns recorded with a level of slime and fuzz that incorporates the occasional fast-paced Death Metal section against a hoarse, demonic rasp that brings the Black-ness into focus, but overall this conglomerate of influences manages to come up with a hodge-podge of discordant sounds and off-kilter passages that make for a scattershot and disorganized-sounding album that doesn’t know to keep itself in line for the track as it has to go off into its own little world almost as if distracted by something else in the room. That the production is so weak and bland certainly does this no favors, rendering the guitars into a pile of mush that further offers their Sludge listing while making riffs bleed into each other with so much distortion going on as to make it nearly impossible to determine the actual melody being played. As well, the drums are just merely pounding percussion notes playing the background and really don’t do much of anything to distinguish themselves while the blaring, muddy bass-lines throughout make for a rather sloppy mess that it can’t really recover from. There’s no bite at all to the music and when mixed with generally boring and disorganized music as this it really makes the whole effort hard to get into. This isn’t all the fault of the songs, as intro "Fork Through Pitch" signals their intentions immediately with plodding riff-work, stagnant paces and churning, slow-broiled rhythms at odds with each other as the thrashier sections clash wildly with the sluggish tempos, awful production and decidedly obvious lack-of-life within the arrangements, clearly gives a noticeable warning. "Maw" is slightly better with a tight riffing set and some spirited sections, but again the lousy production, plodding rhythms and generally heavy-handed forcing of the different elements into a whole makes for a rather troublesome outing. "Discarded Death" is a bit better as it focuses more on low-slung Death Metal riffing and a generally faster vibe that comes off as one of the faster tracks on the album and stands out because of that. The album’s worst track, "A Litany of Sailor’s Sins," is just too slow and plodding to offer anything substantial here with a lame central riff, no speed or even heaviness until the later half, which is generally too little too late to matter with this one. This plodding, generally uneven pace is repeated throughout "From Whence the Old Skull Came," the rumbling bass failing to make the bland, plodding riffs stand up against the uninteresting drums and makes this one undoubtedly disposable. "Bats" tends to focus itself a little better with some fine mid-tempo riffing and a generally enjoyable pace, while the fine instrumental "Cabin Fever" certainly offers up some interesting up-tempo riffs and sections that actually comes across as one of the better tracks without the vocals to hold it back and lets the band rip away with abandon. "The Devil’s Trotter" does get things back on track with the bouncy rhythms and actually fun tempo throughout, but tends to wander around too much with the eerie vocal chants and go-nowhere final half that really makes it hard to finish off strongly, which certainly aligns itself with the plodding closer "Speliogenesis," as the extended vocal chanting, plodding riff-work and generally numbing riffing throughout manages to end on a feeling of euphoria at not enduring anymore as the final up-tempo notes sign off once and for all at the general lack of interest it has in sustaining that pace. The credit for mixing the genres is certainly commended, but the fact that it’s so weak and disorganized as this is certainly troubling.