PICK OF THE WEEK: Bathsheba put maniacal touch on doom, stoke haunting fires on debut ‘Servus’

bathsheba-bandThere’s a lot of evil in this world, and it’s not exactly hiding in the shadows ready to pounce. In fact, when you consider some of the things going on in this world, and the way certain people are being treated, you’d probably be better off taking a Satanist over some of the people committing atrocities and harming entire groups of people.

So, when it comes to the music of the devil and sworn darkness, it’s more of an escape into something comfortable than a foray into your worst fears. On that note, Bathsheba’s amazing first full-length “Servus” is a much-needed thrust into the unknown, a place where you could be haunted and your psyche may be torn apart, but you won’t feel like you’re amid horrible spirits. Instead, these shadows invite and entrance you, helping you see things from a perspective where a release is healthy, and what’s going on elsewhere is the true fall of humankind. This band—vocalist Michelle Nocon (Death Penalty and ex-Serpentcult), guitarist Dwight Goossens (ex-Disintered), bassist Raf Meukens (also of Death Penalty and Tortureama) and drummer Jelle Steven (ex-SardoniS)—formed just four years ago, but already they’ve got an enchanting stranglehold on their sweltering doom that feels like it’s perfect for any creaky night where your inhibitions could use a boost. These six songs flow together perfectly, and as a whole, they make for an exciting, soul-scorching journey that will keep your blood flowing hard.

bathsheba-cover“Of Fire” begins the record with a quote from “The Final Conflict” before tearing into drubbing doom, and deliberately delivered lines by Nocon rip at your throat. Her voice is in total command, typically delivering sung lines but often unleashing vicious growls that indicate danger. The song rambles on, with chaos invited and the band whipping you into a frenzy. “Ain Soph” is fast and fiery at the start, sounding like a death metal assault blowing your way, before it evens out and lets in more sticky doom. “I am the malicious one,” Nocon wails, while strange, spacey sax moves in and brings chilled winds, hinting toward a calmer trip. But then the band drops the hammer, sludging and pounding, looking to do optimal damage before bowing out. “Manifest” is the longest cut at 10:29, as whispers swirl in the air above you, and the music slips into a seductive shadow that lures you in for more. Nocon continually cries out to “my darkness,” while a bout of really strong soloing pushes in and overwhelms, making up the spine of a lengthy instrumental section that chars the final minutes of this killer song.

“Demon 13” has a cool, tranquil start before it blasts apart and scorches the earth. Once again, Nocon runs the gamut of vocal approaches, driving you with her singing and punishing you with growls, while the chorus is grimy and fun. The track is a nice balance of melodic and menacing, something this band does well. “The Sleepless Gods” grinds your face into the dirt as it spreads its wings. This package of slowly dealt doom is made so effective by everyone’s contributions, as the vocals are strong and compelling, and the playing leaves you both on fire and arrested, as you try to decipher what it is you experienced. Closer “I At the End of Everything” is a burly 8:26, and it hints at calm and restfulness as it begins its strides. But you know where this is going by now. Everything opens up fully, with Nocon stretching her voice and dressing the cut with her blood. “Open your mind!” she urges, as the song heads toward psychedelic and trippy in segments, outright violent in others. As the song reaches its finish, the emotions and volume are on high, and a last cut from “The Final Conflict” wraps a nice bow around this and helps it bookend with the record’s beginning.

It’s funny that people used to fear spooky and devilish surroundings when, really, your next-door neighbor may be the one to avoid. Bathsheba’s “Servus” provides for you a gateway to immerse yourself in dark forces that help you feel alive instead rather than dead over the outside world. This is a punishing, fucking exciting record that’s a blast front to back and over again.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/bathshebakills

To buy the album, go here: http://www.svartrecords.com/shop/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.svartrecords.com/