Doom and Gloom: Amammoth and Domkraft
After a brief time away, we’re back, folks, and I have not come empty-handed. Today, I’ve got two releases that I am very excited to talk about. Both of these babies are clinics in epic and powerful doom. What is especially awesome is how different the pair is in style and execution while arriving at the same oh so satisfying destination.
First up, I present you with The Fire Above, the first full length by Australian trio, Amammoth. On The Fire Above, Amammoth performs a blend of minimalist stoner doom fused with exceptionally plodding sludge. Don’t be fooled by the description. These guys are very creative.
The first thing you’re gonna notice is how slow this music is. It’s damn slow even for doom, though it doesn’t quite drop the tempo to funeral doom levels. Despite the bloated sloth pace, A Fire Above doesn’t feel lazy or boring. Think watching a herd of elephants march across the Sahara rather than observing moss growing. There’s usually a tension to the tracks that keep them from getting bogging down.
Compositionally, A Fire Above isn’t terribly complex music, but it makes up for it with intense passion and creative instrumentals. Aside from the drums, nothing is flashy or complicated. However, everything is exactly where it needs to be to have immense impact. Aside from the standard guitar, bass, and drum riffs native on any doom/release, there are smatterings of organs and choral passages found throughout the album courtesy of bassist Luis Lipovac. Amammoth have created the audio version of painting with negative space. It’s all stupidly heavy and weirdly spiritual. There’s just something intensely pagan about this buddy, and I don’t mean crappy folk metal, either. I’m talking primal shamanism here.
This shamanistic vibe is in no small part due to the drums. Indeed, the drums are my favorite part of the album. I cannot overstate how powerful Scott Wilson’s drums are on A Fire Above. Like everything else on the album, the drums are fairly simple, but they’re creative and emphatic enough to turn that simplicity into a strength rather than a weakness.
One more thing that I can’t forget to mention is the vocals. Fuck, does Scott Fisher sound pissed off. He’s not really doing growls or shrieks, nor is he doing a straight scream like Eyehategod‘s Mike IX. Instead, he’s got a very human sort of roar thing going on. It kinda reminds me of some sort of despondent apocalyptic prophet.
The gist is this: I think that A Fire Above is a really cool and rewarding album. I found it to be a very interesting and deep listen, despite its minimalism and creeping speed. If it sounds like it might be your thing, too, give it a shot.
A Fire Above is out now via Electric Valley Records. Get it here.
Alright, alright. If I liked Amammoth’s A Fire Above, I loved Seeds by Sweden’s Domkraft. Holy fuck, this album fucking kills! I’ma be straight here. Seeds is a really strong contender for album of the year in my book.
Seeds is just absurdly engrossing and entertaining. Here, Domkraft plays a hypnotizing composite of progressive sludge and technical stoner (I know what I said). These are some very complex songs, doom or not. Each track is simply bursting with layers and textures. Every song is worthy of multiple listens, not only because they’re awesome, but because you’ll often hear something you missed the first time around. Additionally, melody and rhythm; experimentation and consistency are perfectly balanced to create a sound that is both intellectually stimulating and emotionally robust.
If I had to describe it another way, I’d say that Domkraft has taken the best progressive elements of Mastodon (if Mastodon wasn’t constantly trying to progress out of the genre), and combined it with the almighty Sleep‘s knack for groove and heaviness. This, they season with a healthy dose of psychedelia à la Jefferson Airplane. Keep in mind, though, my description is only a general reference point. Seeds is far from a derivative album. There’s way too much cool stuff going to make that claim.
Instrumentally, Domkraft is phenomenal. Seeds has got to be the least lazy doom album I’ve ever heard. Despite the slow to mid-paced tempo of the songs, the musicians are working their asses off with their respective performances. For instance, the guitars are nearly always restless and busy. Don’t look for power chords to ring out ad nauseam here. There are death metal bands out there that couldn’t keep up with the number of leads and solos Domkraft pour into every song.
The rhythm section is no less cerebral. Seeds switches up tempo and time frequently. Don’t like a riff? Wait a moment. It’ll change soon enough. The drums, bass, and rhythm guitar sway with the motion of an agitated sea. Though there’s a definite swing to the music, there’s also a certainty that the form that swing takes is subject to change at any moment.
All this musical magnificence is squarely topped off by a truly wonderful vocal performance. The apocalyptic themes of Seeds are brilliantly expressed by the impassioned wails of Martin Wegeland. His performance colors every song in an aura of desperation that is both powerful and sublime.
Seeds really showcases the magic that can happen when an extremely skilled set of musicians get their hands on a traditionally simple genre. I’m not familiar with Domkraft’s earlier work, but if their other stuff is as good as this, I feel ripped off for not having heard them sooner. 2021 continues to be a stellar year for metal, and these guys have absolutely contributed to that fact. Seeds is a nearly perfect album, and if you don’t at least give it a listen, you’re not my real friend. Domkraft’s Seeds is an endlessly intriguing and supremely heavy sonic journey.
Seeds comes out on 4/30/21 via Magnetic Eye Records. Get it here.