Review: Bereft’s Lands Carves a Path in Doom
The hand of doom has many fingers. Whether you’re lighting up, fighting dragons, or attending a burial, there’s a doom for that. Bereft take on a sort of post-blackened doom, if I had to categorize it, but I’d prefer to let it speak for itself.
In their debut EP (Lost Ages, 2014), the doom was present but less impressive than the post-black offerings. I never felt that sense of dread that should come with the genre, as the style was there but didn’t convey its purpose. It’s a good EP, despite me being seemingly tough on it, but there’s a reason for that. The jump they made between then and now was subtle, but made all the difference in the world.
Lands opens strong, not with speed, but with a loud and bestial anger that shakes the loose rocks off the cave wall. The vocals immediately show their impressive strength with an intensity that I like to see in my post-metal. Instead of immediately building on the slow start, Bereft keep stringing you along by switching to a brief sampling of their clean vocals, which are reminiscent of Justin Brodrick’s depressed echoed crooning in Jesu. Ok, this is interesting, you may think. Two sides of doom that aren’t often seen together is pretty unique, but so far nothing has really ripped my skull from my flesh and place an ax through it. But, just when you get settled in this sort of sludgy doom groove, a pummeling drum roll leads you into the black for the first time. It’s a swift and abrasive transition, but where the magic lies is how they subtly shift this new aggressiveness back into the original doom riff and the tremolo slices perfectly though those clean vocals. It’s not a layering, it’s a brilliant evolution.
“The Ritual” continues this shape shifting with their blackened style dominant this time. While the guitar and drums absolutely rip through the middle portion of the song, I have to admire the vocal approach. Not content to just stick with one style, as we saw in the opening track, the vocalists trade off verses. The high and low contrasting growls show they are not satisfied with letting any part of their music get stale. Due to the range of styles, tones, and speed found on Lands, I can’t imagine the production job was a walk in the park. No matter what the band does, the engineering is just clear enough capture the highs and lows without being sterile.
The 14-minute conclusion, “Waning Light” starts very slow. Obnoxiously slow. Perfectly slow. The plotting pace is a testament to the virtue of desolation. You can only understand the beauty of complexity once you know what it would be like stripped away. A quiet tremolo eventually shows its face up in the atmosphere, like a blackened aurora borealis on a bleak gray sky, and while you are distracted looking up, a blast beat slips into the groove and the ground opens up beneath you.
As you are falling in the mandatory cool down section, the drums (provided by Michael Kadnar (Downfall of Gaia and Black Table), who filled in on drums while the band was looking for a new member) continue to innovate with an unexpected extended-fill that leads to one of the most outstanding conclusions I have heard on a recent metal album. And just after four songs, albeit roughly 45 minutes combined, the album concludes with an exultant bang. You don’t feel the need for more or less, it’s just complete.
Lands sticks out in this sudden resurgence of doom. Perhaps it’s most important feature is that it’s not too much of anything. It’s sludgy, melodic, angry, depressed, unrelenting, and deliberate, but never for longer than you can handle.
4.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Lands is out March 31 through Prosthetic Records.