Landskap’s debut ‘I’ packed with trad doom, psychedelic fog, and bizarre cosmic transmissions

LandskapIt’s always cool when a label tosses you a curveball and releases a record you might not ordinarily expect them to handle. I’m talking stuff like Relapse working with True Widow, or Profound Lore putting out Liar in Wait’s EP, or even Gilead Media releasing music from Lychgate. All of those labels have open minds for sure, but they still surprise you with something now and again.

Now the same thing can be said for Iron Bonehead, who usually put out the gnarliest, most vicious of death metal bands, most of which create sounds that seem like they originated in a crypt. They’ve become a pretty damn reliable label for when you want death metal that feels raw and violent, but now they have a release that might take some by surprise with Landskap’s debut offering “I.” The music sounds influenced by psychedelic rock and doom metal from the late 1960s and early 1970s, and it’s one hell of a headtrip taking on this four-track record from this UK-based band. If you let the music take over your mind and body, you could find yourself transformed somewhere unexpected, and you might not even need mind-altering substances to get there. But it’s also heavy and riffy, so you get a dose of weightiness along with the trippiness.

landskap coverLandskap are comprised of musicians who have made marks elsewhere in a number of noteworthy bands, and they came together for the simplest of purposes, to share influences and play a different style of music from what they were doing in other groups. The lineup includes Jake Harding on vocals (he also plays with sludge/doomers Dead Existence); George Pan (Father Sun) on guitars; Frederic Caure (currently of Serpentcult) on bass and rhythm guitar; Kostas Panagiotou (Aphonic Threnody and Pantheist, and formerly of Crippled Black Phoenix) on keyboards and organs; and Paul Westwood (Pan and death metal dreamers Indesinence) on drums. They sound pretty damn tight together, and their ability to throw themselves into eras past and remain true to that sound is pretty remarkable and makes for a record that should please longtime doom fans and newcomers who relish a vintage sound.

The first side of “I” begins with the 11:37-long “A Nameless Fool,” a song that begins loud and disruptive but then settles into a psychedelic groove, with strong doom riffs, death bells, and smoking organs. Harding’s vocals finally open up, and they definitely stand apart from the rest of the metal world, even the doom category as they sound transported right from the 1970s, when having pipes mattered. The song eventually darkens again, with a sinister rhythmic underbelly, simmering, fiery guitar work over top, and the band unleashing their true power at that point. Harding returns to warn, “Possessions weigh you down until the day we die,” as the band fires its final salvo that fades out in noise. “My Cabin in the Woods” follows, and this instrumental sounds like said cabin would be located on a far-off planet somewhere. It’s full of psychedelic space rock, and it’s a cool little piece.

“Fallen So Far” kicks off the second side of the album, and it’s packed with bluesy doom swagger that shows off their attitude. Even the singing, as melodic as it is, has a menacing shine to it even when Harding is trying to wallow in positivity with lines such as, “Speak the words you forgot to say, a belief in better days.” The song kicks into a cool Black Sabbath-style shuffle, complete with mind-altering keyboards and fiery soloing. It’s a great piece. “To Harvest the Storm” is the 11:54-long closing instrumental, and it packs in more space rock, but in a much darker sense. Eventually the volume and intensity really kick in, giving you a good drubbing before the next section blows in and fills the air with mesmerizing tranquility.  The last portion of the song really gets the jets going as the band starts clobbering you and letting smoke rise everywhere, with the storm continuing to build and everything dissipating in a psyche fog. Naturally. I mean, how else would you expect this to end?

This is an interesting, spirited record that really hit a sweet spot with me. Especially since so much doom is starting to sound so similar (sludge and growled vocals), it’s cool to hear these guys sticking to classic sounds and doing a damn fine job interpreting them. Hopefully we get more from Landskap in between the members’ other projects, because it sounds like they have a lot more to say and plenty of psychedelic magic to make killer music for years to come.

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