Doom and Gloom: Cosmic Reaper and Sporae Autem Yuggoth
Welcome to the first edition of Doom and Gloom, what I hope to make a semi-regular feature where I rip off Spear’s Tech Death Thursday, but with doom metal highlight and review interesting doom and sludge releases. As many of you already know, black metal is my first love, but doom is the cute barista at the coffee shop that I shamelessly flirt with. Enough prattle, let’s get into it.
First up, we have Cosmic Reaper with their self-titled full length debut. These North Carolina boys bring the kind of stoner doom that will immediately win over fans of Acid King and Electric Wizard. That being said, Cosmic Reaper adds a few twists that help differentiate themselves from those bands.
Everything you’d expect to be present in a great stoner doom album is here. Cosmic Reaper is flagrantly fuzzed out, and I mean that in the best of ways. There’s a layer of haze over the songs that perfectly grants that wonderfully smoky and trance-like aura so vital to this kind of metal. Yet, it’s not so overwhelming as to dull the sharper tones at work.
Rhythmically, there’s some primo Black Sabbath worship to be found here (did you expect anything else?). Most of these tracks have a gnarly swing to them that drip with an arrogant swagger that’s just plain fun. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s crazy enjoyable. There’s also enough bottom accompanying said rhythms to excite Sir-Mix-A-Lot. Check out “Stellar Death”, and see if you don’t have a good time.
As for the vocals, they’re… fine. What we’ve got is a fairly standard performance for this kind of metal. It’s kinda like a weaker male version of Dorthia Cotrell’s signature wail. It works, but it simply doesn’t quite have the power to make much of an impression. It doesn’t help that said vocals are relegated to the background via the mixing choice. Such a choice definitely adds to the atmosphere, but it kneecaps the vocals’ ability to really stand out.
Where Cosmic Reaper starts to get more innovative is at the lead guitar level. Behind the wall of fuzz, and above the swinging rhythm section, there is some surprisingly interesting guitar work wafting throughout the album. Even a fairly plodding track like “Heaven’s Gate” has some weird shit happening.
Additionally, many of the songs have moments of twin guitar harmonic melodies that are more reminiscent of Crowbar than Windhand. These harmonies pierce through the foggy rhythms and vocals like a laser in an opium den. The contrast just makes both components pop way more than they would separately.
Aside from that, the solos that jump up here and there on Cosmic Reaper are fantastic. They range from a more traditional but well executed brand standard on any Sabbathy doom metal album to a very spacey and pretty damn progressive variety. Their placement is always appropriate and serves as epic punctuations to already great songs.
One other thing that sets Comic Reaper apart from its contemporaries is the average track length. That is, unlike say, Electric Wizard, Cosmic Reaper know how to end a damn song before you get sick of it. Aside from “Planet Eater”, none of the tracks top the 7-minute mark.
To sum up, Cosmic Reaper is a damn cool album, and a damn fun ride. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before, but there’s nothing wrong with hearing it again when it’s done this well.
Pick it up via Heavy Psych Sounds here.
Next, we’ve got The Plague of the Aeons, the debut EP from Sporae Autem Yuggoth. Sporae Autem Yuggoth is an exceptionally talented death doom outfit from Chile, but with how gnarly and evil this release is, they may as well be from the Outer Darkness. Technically, The Plague of the Aeons had an independent release back at the beginning of 2020, but it re-released in both digital and CD formats via Personal Records on March 5th, 2021. So, as far as I’m concerned, it’s fair game to talk about.
Like I said, The Plague of the Aeons is a death doom album, but it’s one that leans heavily into the death portion of that descriptor. It’s doom that doesn’t just creep; it’s creepy. It’s a fairly deliberate, exceedingly dark album. It kinda reminds me of black mold in that its occasionally glacial pace always radiates the promise of very bad things.
Let me not be misconstrued, though The Plague of the Aeons is slow and dark, it’s by no means a one trick pony. There’s a staggering amount of variety here regarding both mood and musicality, especially for a death doom record. Sporae Autem Yuggoth has created something here that is the opposite of lazy or contrived. There’s a pretty persistent tendency throughout to balance tasty swinging riffs with plodding brutality and evil soundscapes.
Seriously, I really have to express my appreciation in these guys’ understanding that slow, longform music doesn’t have to equate to boring music. There’s always something cool going on, and that something is often subject to change. That’s right, Sporae Autem Yuggoth moves through riffs at a fairly frequent pace, at least for such deliberate songs. I mean, a riff will definitely last for quite a bit of time, but for death doom, it may as well be Suffocation.
As I said earlier, there’s a wide range of moods present on The Plague of the Aeons. “The Malignant Observer”, for example, mixes some strong black metal elements into its structure to draw out a very ominous and, well, malignant feeling. Conversely, “Teleport to Obscurity” leans more into a psychedelic sludge sort of thing to grant itself a more surreal dreamlike quality.
Needless to say, the songs are great, but if you need more convincing, let’s talk instruments for a minute. There’s nothing wrong with the bass performance, though it is fairly straightforward and not quite as bottom heavy as one would expect.
The drums are a surprisingly complex and fleshed out. On the surface, they seem a bit simple, but listen closely. A world of interesting hand and foot work will open before your ears.
As for the guitars, these guys are like Biggie Smalls: they have techniques dripping out their buttcheeks. Harmonies, bends, chugs, large and small chords, you name it, they probably use it to get their point across. These bastards are damn fine guitarists.
What about the vocals, you may ask? What about them?! Sporae Autem Yuggoth has the kind of inhuman growls that many other bands would kill for. They’ve got the magic touch to push an already dark album into the Lovecraftian territory that they’re definitely aiming for.
There’s something deeply fucked up here, and I love it. Get The Plague of the Aeons here.
That’s it for now. Hopefully, you enjoyed this first iteration of Doom and Gloom. I’ll put out another round soon.