Doom force Foehammer stretch sound, weave fantastical color into face-mashing ‘Monumentum’

Some of the more interesting bands operating in the heavy music space are the ones that keep pushing forward and refuse to adhere to templates that have grown stale. The ability to push other buttons and take chances keeps things fresh and exciting, and while some listeners might get irritated they aren’t being served the same thing over and over, the ones with open minds eventually will understand.

Doom duo Foehammer—guitarist/vocalist Jay Cardinell, drummer Ben Price—created punishingly slow music ever since they arrived nearly a decade ago. And before you freak out, they’re not exactly running Iron Maiden-style gallops nor blast beats past you, so calm down. On “Monumentum,” their mammoth second record, a five-track double album, the band changes things up a bit. While they still heavily worship at the altar of lurching doom, there’s more aggression, some speedier sequences, and expanded imagination. Speaking of which, there also are homages to authors such as Ursula K LeGuin and Jorge Luis Borges as well as their own mythology they weave into this song, which makes this even more exciting and immersive.

Opener “Orm Embar” runs a healthy 14 minutes, the ground rumbling and Cardinell’s growls ripping through the earth’s crust. The playing is dark and deathly, plodding along as the band’s brutally deliberate pace enables the bruising to really set into the muscles. The tempo drives as the drums blister the flesh, a sinister vibe getting bigger and more troubling to battle.  “Oblivion of Sand” lands blows right away, pushing and scathing, slowly beating you into the ground. Guttural growls unleash their claws as the guitars heat up and spread, the drums blister, and the heat increases to a boiling level of danger, spitting strange energy. The growls crush as somber waters soak the ground, cosmic fog grows threateningly thick, and everything washes into the horizon.

“The Disk” brings massive aggression and destructive growls, pummeling and slashing away. The vocals bubble as the playing gets smothering and heavy, pounding brutally as guitars jolt and invade your nervous system. The tempo chews muscle, the playing scorches, and everything is left flattened. “The Great Cortege I – Accession of the Elder” is hazy and slow when it starts, opening into mysterious darkness, increasing the cloud cover. Guitars fry as the drums mash, the growls curdle, and the pace keeps pummeling, the menacing growls adding to the morbidity and draining the final drops of life. Closer “The Great Cortege II – Anointment of the Gift-Child” runs 14:20, the longest track here that starts by drilling into your guts. The ambiance is hypnotic but also devastating, noise wells and drones, and the menace becomes an even more formidable force with which to reckon. Heavy fire blasts, guitars create seismic waves, and the playing spirals into cosmic heat and eventually fades away.

Foehammer make a massive step forward with “Monumentum” as the duo adds more spice and savagery into their music and pepper you with doom that plods and always leaves you hanging on each note. The fantastical elements built into the music are completely at home and add an exciting element that helps this music rise above of the expected trappings of music this style. This is a meaty, hammering record that should earn this band more followers and leave bodies buried in their wake.

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