Doomthousandnineteen: Goatess, The Sleer & Consecration
Three fairly different bands of doom’s ilk enter, no one comes out.
The Sleer – Vigil
Do you remember where you were on that fateful night of October 8th 2014? They say that flash-memories, or memories of a very specific moment in time associated with a strong emotion (such as the falling of WTC towers for Americans, the November of 1917 for Russians, or the first week of May 1995 for the civilized nations), are more accurate than regular memories, but several studies have shown that, in fact, they aren’t one bit less vulnerable to time’s distorting effect. Some studies have even been bold enough to suggest that since, through auto-suggestion, people tend to be convinced of the accuracy of their flash-memories they may be assuming things that never happened, such as being convinced they were eating bread as the news of the revolution broke, despite not doing so – purely based on the fact that it’s the kind of thing they would usually do.
I say science be damned, I remember exactly, and without a flaw where I was, and what I felt, when the news first broke and The Sleer was announced as the best damn unsigned band in the state of Colorado. I was
sensuously caressing myself in the shower sitting in front of my laptop, observing the events in real-time and it was pure misery, for I was not equipped to handle their soul-burning doom, crushing all emotion, because feelings are for wimps, as dear departed MasterLord once put it.
Much happened between then and the next we heard of The Sleer, as the band’s primus motor Robby Marshall relocated form Colorado to Oregon, assembled a new band and re-recorded the band’s debut, before releasing an all-new beast in the guise of Midnight Sister. Much has happened since then, as well, as W, the foremost champion of The Sleer among us Toileteers, was forced to resign following a voting scandal, and escaped the Rocky Plains and Grand Canyons of Colorado – or whatever the hell Colorado’s actually got going for it, I don’t know, and quite frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn – to greener pastures, and The Sleer had their logo re-designed, their line-up revamped and their album re-recorded. No, wait, that’s not right- Re-album newcorded? Nope, still not it. New album re-corded? That sounds about right.
Besides being abysmally heavy, churning out one earthshaking riff after another, The Sleer were always masters of songwriting. Next to Coffins-like chugging heaviness would lie leads owing their melodic flavour to NWOBHM, and sludge and dirges interspersed with Asphyxian mudslides could contain nods to classic game soundtracks (or so W claims, I, for one, have never played Super Metroid). And nothing ever seemed to come about entirely unexpectedly, even if it was sudden, most always sounding like it was the exact thing that had been built towards all the time. Whether or was terror or triumph, The Sleer could deliver.
And deliver they still do, although Vigil would seem to be concocted of a more concentrated brew. The four, massive, tracks would seem to rather recall the band’s debut than Midnight Sister, but that does not mean that the vast array of influences previously present has been cast aside. But those influences don’t burst out as individual moments as often anymore, rather being woven into the central thread that runs through all of Vigil. “Wear This Shroud” and “You Will Hold My Vigil” make the clearest exceptions to this, both shedding their hefty skin and allowing the tension to subside, for a time, before plunging back into the unsettled depths. An album as asininely heavy as this, on both, more tangible, and emotional levels, is rarely an easy listen, and neither is Vigil. But it will be worth the time, and the effort.
3,75/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Goatess – Blood and Wine
Almost like a clock, a brisk three years since their last, the Swedish doom-via-stoner quartet Goatess is ready to deliver another hour’s worth of music. As per usual, they’ve a new bassist in the fold by the name of Samuel Cornelsen, from Count Raven. Being a newcomer in that band, he never got to serve with Chritus Linderson, and unfortunately the honor eludes him again, as Chritus decided to step down from his duties as Goatess’ vocalist sometime after the release of Purgatory Under New Management. Stepping into his shoes here is Karl Buhre of Crucifyre.
On Blood and Wine Goatess is heavier than they’ve ever been before, and dirtier. While the stoner still very much lives in the songs’ groove, the mildly psychedelic rocking has taken a seat back and let Niklas Jones’ heavy-handed riffs and Kenta Karlbom’s bombastic, but fairly airy drumwork. Still not adhering to stoner’s besetting sin – Sabbath-worship, Blood and Wine instead takes a step towards Kyuss‘ territory, marking a welcome change.
Giving less room for the moody, psyched-up sections, has made Blood and Wine more monotonous than it’s predecessor, in the sense, that each song has less going for it, and instead of developing their ideas, mostly they’re focused on driving them home with repetition. For an album over an hour long, this could be a major issue, but ultimately Goatess avoids the worst of it with pacing. The gentler “Dark Days” and “Jupiter Rising”, most reminiscent of their previous two albums, dot the halfway mark, as does “Dunerider”, the album most Kyuss-like piece, all for better.
Several of the songs could have been cut shorter, and they would still play into stoner’s more repetition-based corner, and this can make Blood and Wine a difficult album to sit through all at once, and cut deep into one’s enjoyment of it (and half-a-toilet), but otherwise Goatess’ third is one of the better stoner albums put out this year, and another notch up for the Swedes.
3/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Consecration – Fragilium
I had never heard of UK death/doomers Consecration before this record hit my inbox. I gave the single track “A Sentinel for the Fragile” enclosed within a play and mentally categorized the band as “potential”. While there was a hint of mournfulness in the song, the band kept up an altogether all too brisk a pace to really compare to their kinsmen My Dying Bride, nor were they approaching misery – which is plentiful in their output – from a sorrow-filled angle, but rather a torturous one, and with such rawness that Fragilium sounds more concerned with causing misery than lamenting it’s existence, or wallowing in it. Not an entirely novel approach, but one that hasn’t been explored by too many bands in recent years, and certainly one that I have missed.
The song did come equipped with a two-minute arpeggio intro that unfortunately ended up sounding like an afterthought, rather than a lull into a false sense of security. An odd choice of pacing, to put an intro like that to an albums second track. Turns out, all of the eight minutes of the first tracks are that same exact intro. And every following song starts out the same. This truly is music that causes misery, because misery is what I am in.
There’s plenty of good on Fragilium, it’s full of raw, torturous and deathy doom, but never without melodic heft and still somehow manages to keep themselves enough a way away from the classic bands of the genre to not just stand on their own legs, but also actually stand out. It’s also commendable how long these songs are, each between eleven and thirteen minutes, yet not one of them feels like it’s dragging on. Unfortunately, even apart from their tendency towards formulaic openings, the songs are very similar and at album length this becomes a detriment when there’s no particular riffs to make them stand apart from each other. While the compositions are by no means bad, they don’t work too well with each other, in the context of an album.
Together with another UK death/doom band of hideous nature, The Crawling, Consecration are drawing from fairly long tradition of bands, but on the verge of breaking through with a thing of their own. Unfortunately neither band has fully managed to succeed in their efforts. Names to keep an eye on, nevertheless.
2,5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Each of the bands’ Facebook pages are linked above, so why don’t you tell them something and like their pages. Consecration is currently out, while Goatess comes out on the 27th of September, and The Sleer on September 13th.