Welcome to ON THE HORIZON, our relentlessly infrequent feature wherein we discuss upcoming albums that have caught our sleep-encrusted eyes. Always on the lookout for the next best thing to wake us from slumber.
After reviewing last year’s excellent Death Ritual, I wasn’t expecting to see Yatra’s name sprout from the manure-ridden promo pit in such short order. But here we are, with the promise of their forthcoming sophomoric attempt on the ol’ horizon.
Simply put, Yatra’s prior treatise in doom was quite impressive. To quote my overly loquacious self, Death Ritual exudes “a unique character, and for that, it shines in the stygian environs of its own creation...the riffs moves like tepid silt, while drums perform their duties with little flash or braggadocio. Notably, the guitar is oddly comforting--its caliginous persona is so well defined that it takes on a near-physical presence.” While I obviously enjoyed it in the moment, it is worth mention that this album has continued, months and months later, to pull me back into its fuzzy embrace. No small feat, given the quantity of doom we deal with.
On this Sabbath Sunday, we comely inhabitants of the Sleeping Village have been dipping our toes in the dangerous waters of 80’s era Black Sabbath. As one does. In the grand scheme, the general sentiment is that if it ain't Ozzy or Dio, it ain't Sabbath. While I personally tend to agree, we are talking about Iommi, the Rifflord Most High, and as such, there are certainly some diamonds in the rough. Case in point: 1983's Born Again, the blackest of the black sabbathian sheep.
Is it fair to say I'm disappointed that Born Again was Ian Gillian's only foray with the boys? My rational is that this one-off album, despite repeatedly getting the short end of the stick--often deservedly so--actually demonstrates a lot of unactualized promise.
The Sleeping Village owes a substantial debt to Black Sabbath…& not just because we blatantly lifted our moniker from their plunder-worthy supply of deep cuts. According to one contemporary review, Sabbath peddled "discordant jams with bass and guitar reeling like velocitised speedfreaks all over each other's musical perimeters, yet never quite finding synch--just like Cream! But worse.” This critic was, obviously, misinformed. Because we love to give credit where credit is due, we dedicate every Sunday (give or take0 to recounting the history of their own discography, or to highlighting a lesser-known band carrying the mantle of Sabbathian legacy. Today, it's a case of the former, as we discuss one of Sabbath's most monumental albums. Welcome to Sabbath Sunday: A Vol. 4 Retrospective.
Look, we can be self-critical: our Sampler needs a bit of an overhaul. Gone are the days of four mini-reviews crammed into the shrewd confines of an Instagram post. These bands deserve more attention bestowed upon the fruits of their talent & labor. Thus, the revamp’d Sampler, doom edition.
HERON - A Low Winter’s Sun
Heron’s mix of sludgy riffage, tortured vocals, and a post-metal approach to song structure on A Low Winter’s Sunmakes for a welcome addition to the snow and wind pounding our windows here at Sleeping Village. Less than innovative, perhaps, but this well-executed album has been on pretty constant rotation since April. Of particular note is Heron’s willingness to write music that consistently ebbs and flows--to this end, they utilize, at times, an acoustic flair with great aplomb. These moments add a dynamism to the thick ‘n’ doomy post-metal environ. Towards the end, Heron does seem to lean heavily on samples to drive the narrative, but as a whole, it makes for a nearly sublime listening
experience. Give it a whirl...or five.
BAST - Nanoångström
Nanoångström’s aesthetic package is an intriguing affair. Possessing some of the best album artwork in the doom game, Bast’s latest is certainly pleasing on the eyes. More importantly, in the sonic department, the palette straddles black and doom without ever falling solidly on either side of that seemingly abrupt demarcation. To their credit, Bast is very effective at exploring the space between those boundaries. The riffs are sludgy and voluminous, the blackened vocals are richly emotive, and the drums, while at times distant, lay claim to a hollow expansiveness. When Bast’s formula clicks, it clicks on an intrinsically pleasing level. Given a horizonless, galaxy-spanning vision, some tracks do feel particularly long. That said, Nanoångström as a whole asserts itself with a delicious driving energy that consistently rears its head on standout moments--look to the title track and Far Horizons as prime examples. Bast brings a clear technical adeptness--a hefty late addition to 2018’s roster of genre-toeing doom. Highly recommended!
Heron and Bast can both be found on Bandcamp.
Written by a groggy-eyed, highfalutin peasantry