Posted by Nick Skog on Saturday, March 25, 2017 Under: English
Published: October 13, 2016
*This review was written in 2016 since this album was initially planned for a 2016 release through Sunmask at this time.
Courtesy of SunMask records we’ve been handed this promo for an upcoming split LP which showcases two superb Canadian doom bands; Sea Witch playing a nautical inspired blend of doom and Black Tremor with their trademark hypnotic brand of melancholic folk doom.
More than just being from the same country, being instrumental and both playing doom, these are two bands skilled at creating incredible atmospheres in their music. Sea Witch come representing the coast with a sound akin to being shipwrecked in the middle of the ocean and from landlocked Saskatoon Black Tremor rolls across the landscape like a biting wind.
Up first I’m taking a look at the Sea Witch side of this split. As previously mentioned, hailing from Nova Scotia the band is formed of JL on guitar and bass and SJ on drums and accordion. The accordion might throw you slightly, but if you aren’t looking for it you’ll barely recognize it’s there but I’m mighty glad it is; there aren’t enough accordions in doom these days
If you’ve come across Sea Witch before you’ve probably seem them labeled as funeral doom, which in my mind is doing them a massive disservice. The band seamlessly blends several genres together, there’s a funeral element to be sure, but the timbre of the guitar is more reminiscent of blackened doom and the crushing repetition of the drums and bass leans almost towards drone.
Opening with Green Tide it’s a pretty clear image of what you can expect from Sea Witch; the song ebbs and flows like the titular tides, rising into grand crescendos before falling back down into a heavy monotony.
Next up there’s a two part song in the form of As The Crow Flies. (Part 1) is like a leviathan lumbering through the waves, the echoing guitar in the background is suppressed against the droning of drums and the steady sustain of the bass.
(Part 2) in comparison has a more mournful tone, opening with chugging riffs suggestive of men at the oars or the slow flap of wings from a bird in flight, then the echoing wail of the guitar takes the fore before the song slows tempo midway into a beautifully soft composition, there’s one last burst and then the track fades out with a sigh like the death rattle of a bird too far from land descending slowly to the waves.
Whereas another nautical themed favourite of mine, Dark is the Water, focus on the ocean’s aphotic depths, Sea Witch seemingly ride above the waves, the crashes and sustains reminiscent of the roaring waves. To listen to Sea Witch is to be stranded out at sea, the cold ocean lapping mercilessly around you; there is no sign of rescue, al hope is lost and slowly the cold seeps into your body, sapping your strength and pulling you below the waves.
Moving on we’re heading west and inland for Black Tremor’s offering on this split. If you’re just joining us over at Doomspeakers I recently reviewed their EP and fell unashamedly in love with it.
I described their style as, “twisted folk… [blending] a deep stoner sound with a folky style.” I stand by my convictions for these two tracks; Black Tremor combines a modern doom aesthetic with an old school folk/blues influence. It’s an incredibly unique combination and sounds unlike anything else I’ve encountered, it’s closest to “Earth [shoved] into a dust devil with Electric Wizard.’ With Olivia Bestvater on violin, Alex Deighton on guitar and Brennan Rutherford on drums Black Tremor use their instrumental tones to conjure up images of swirling dust storms, frigid chills and ramshackle buildings in long forgotten towns.
Much like the Sea Witch side, these tracks are a brilliant introduction for the uninitiated into what Black Tremor are about, filled with sparse and mournful melodies echoing out over spectral plains. Hexus I opens with the slow plucking of strings soon accompanied by the grand sweeping wail of the violin and a stripped down drum beat; it winds it’s way along alternating waving between cacophony and melody. Hexus I feels as though it deserves a grim, grainy filter and a starring position on a western soundtrack.
If Hexus I opens slowly, then Hexus II opens at a near crawl, there’s a clear early drone influence coming in strong whilst the chilling blend of wailing violin over a deep thudding guitar combines beautifully. Compared to the previous track Hexus II is more laconic, tending further towards the minimal side of Black Tremor’s catalogue; half the song is a slow build into a screech of violin and then a cascade of melody.
I can’t dwell on Black Tremor much longer, last time I did a review of them I got yelled at for writing 600 words on a 4 track EP. All I can say is that getting two more tracks from this band has not nearly sated my hunger.
Wrapping up, there’s currently no word on the release date for this split, some unfortunate delays on getting the vinyl copies sorted, originally releasing this month it’s been regrettably pushed back to later this year, early 2017. For vinyl lovers, there’s going to be a run of 300 copies of this beauty, which will be primarily available direct from SunMask (link below), so if this tickles your fancy best get in there sharp like. Otherwise, the split will be available digitally from each bands respective bandcamps.
In : English
Tags: sea witch black tremor hypnotic dirge records sunmask stoner doom metal folk doom progressive doom blackened doom metal instrumental doom