Over history as music has developed, a lot of ground has been covered to the point where it’s hard to come up with a fresh take on things people have heard for years. Not that it has to be any musician’s goal necessarily as playing with passion and honestly also fits the bill, but keeping things exciting and continually attention grabbing is a challenge to which not everyone is up to tackling.
Musician/artist Dan Bell (he’s done album artwork for bands such as Crucifist and Orodruin) delves into the heavy doom picture with his Yaaroth project and debut full-length “The Man in the Wood.” Bell initially had a band Yarrow that released an EP in 2015, and three of these tracks also exist in a different form on that recording. Here, Bell takes classic elements of doom and ’70s-style folk to shape this five-track album, and his singing voice is different than most come to expect from extreme music. It’s a smooth croon that could be effective in many different genres, but his work here adds a richness to his doomier moments and delicacy when things get quieter. It’s a different tweak on these territories, and while Bell isn’t recreating the wheel, he’s breathing life into a something that could really use it. By the way, Bell is joined by drummer Samuel Nells, though Will Hoback also handled drums on one track.
“Ancient Sea Town” is a quick opener to establish an ambiance as waters rush and nature comes to life, and then it’s into “The Subterranean Stench” that opens the gates to dramatic and classic doom. Bell’s yarl is not unlike Morrissey (you know, if Morrissey wasn’t a gigantic baby), and that tone adds a lot to this music, because it stands out so much in the genre. The playing is properly Sabbathy, the spirits rip hard, and the singing remains a strong point, adding a tasteful shade to a swaggering pace that isn’t afraid to lash back. “God of Panic” runs a healthy 9:56 and opens in acoustics and folk-style singing, feeling rustic and foggy. There’s a definite Jethro Tull feel here, and not solely because of the windy flutes, and as things go on, the doom waters get deeper and more aggressive. The vocals push higher as the riffs mash, psychedelic bluesy licks swelter, and grimy howls darken the skies, warped and stinging, dissolving into a synth whir.
“They Seek Baryba” brings burning guitars and mournful tones, the singing mixing with muddy streams, warmth heating up your chest. Keys drizzle softly as the dreamy clouds thicken, the power reopening and burning, strange atmospheres strangling and cutting off the air. Moody singing arrives as the music laps, melodies buzz, and birds chirp, pushing you off into space. “Cassap” is the closer, running 13:23 and being led in with flutes and calming folk, even feeling jazzy in stretches. Psychedelic guitars confound, the tempo builds, and sophisticated melodies wash down mountain sides, slowly turning the screws in your mind. The playing speeds up as the guitars jolt, the singing coats like a syrup, and sounds swirl, taking softer acoustics and cosmic vibes into the deep beyond.
There aren’t many bands in the heavy music scope that sound quite like Yaaroth, and for a scene that’s flooded to dangerous levels of saturation, a unique voice is something sorely needed. “The Man in the Wood” sounds equally like something born several decades ago but also timeless, a strange spirit in the metal world that makes the form more interesting. It took me a few visits for this to really sink in, but now that it has, it makes the possibilities of my own listening interests wonderfully expanded.
To buy the album (U.S.), go here: https://metalodyssey.8merch.us/
Or here (Europe): https://metalodyssey.8merch.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://i-voidhanger.com/