If there’s one trait that’s not typical in doom metal, it’s speed. And that’s on purpose. The objective of many dooms bands is to stretch out what they’re doing and unleash their wares in a deliberate, calculated manner. It sounds spookier, angrier, and more destructive. It also happens to be a characteristic that not all doom bands have mastered, as there can be a fine line between compelling and boring.
A band that definitely has the slow thing down to a science is UK duo Bismuth. When I say this band plays slowly, that is pretty much an understatement. They are in no hurry whatsoever, and you’re often left hanging onto notes and pockets of sounds that feel like they stretch on for eons. But that’s the point. Bismuth relish this fact (just check out their bandcamp URL: http://bismuthslow.bandcamp.com/) and do whatever they can to grind their beatings to a crawling, slithering roll. Their new album “Unavailing” is a perfect serving of their dark, droning wonders, and each of these four songs could be called epics, with you wondering if that term is underselling.
Bismuth emerged from Nottingham three years ago, offering up their EP “The Eternal Marshes” in the year of their birth, and contributing to a split with the bizarre Undersmile a year after that. They put out a live album last year, and now they’ve surfaced with their first full-length, a perfect display of what this band does so well. As noted, this is a duo, with Tanya Byrne on bass and vocals and Joe Rawlings on drums, though he also contributes guitars to one track on the album. There are shadows aplenty on this thing, as well as caverns of darkness, and you are dragged through this journey, with your face feeling every stony crevice on your way to wherever they’re taking you. Oh, and by the way, this record is being released in a cooperation among like a million outlets (the link section below is fairly out of control), so no excuse you can’t get your hands on this.
“Tethys” opens the record with a grimy low end, with the rumblings spread over miles and the muck rising to the surface. Byrne howls and growls away, conveying pain and anguish, as the pace keeps bubbling and progressing, smothering the surface and smearing your eyes with soot. The drone buzzes and overwhelms, with the tempo just crushing everything in front of it. There are more than a few times when I want to lower my head and just trance out, with the band pounding away, some atmospheric vocals harmonies bleeding in, and the track settling, slowly fading away. “Of the Weak Willed” is the longest track at 16:28, and it feels like a swollen storm that merely stands in place, overwhelming the terrain beneath. Elements are added as time moves on, with single notes being joined by drums, hushed calls emerging, and jolts of power here and there that feel like electrical bolts. The track crawls and crawls, with some corrosion eating away at about the 12-minute mark, the tempo getting filthier, and deep growls blistering. The band keeps taking shots, staggering you, and that keeps up until the curtain drops.
“The Holocene Extinction” continues the trickling pace, with Rawlings’ drums being introduced and the pace taking its time to get moving. The band strikes hard over and over again, with the tempo bubbling and eventually catching fire, and Byrne’s vicious howls decimating. The approach is a pure drubbing, with noise bristling and scorching, as siren-like sounds begin wafting and electricity jolts the system relentlessly. “Solitude and Emptiness” finishes the record with scraping noise waves and disorienting playing, flooding the terrain with massive charges and stomps. The growls spill in and bruise the flesh, with blackness shadowing everything and the playing doing its best to dizzy whoever comes near it. An elegant shine reverberates off the riffs and continues grilling, spilling foreboding energy, bleeding heavily and slowly, and eventually fading into the night.
If slow is your tempo, Bismuth likely are going to be up your alley. This record is one of the finer pieces of doom metal to emerge this year, and Bismuth are helping to contribute to what’s been an atypically fruitful end of the year for metal releases. The band’s might is bound to be more realized in 2016 than the conclusion of this year, and any hungry mind willing to take this compelling trip is likely to be ground into the earth in as trudging a manner possible.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/bismuthslow/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.drycoughrecords.com/products
Or here: http://tartarusrecords.com/merch
For more on the label, go here: http://www.drycoughrecords.com/
And here: http://www.degraanrepubliek.com/
And here: http://box-records.com/
And here: http://viralagerecords.blogspot.com/
And here: http://tartarusrecords.com/