Burning World/Black Bow
The world is in a dark and monstrous place at the moment. The crises in the East are indicative of trouble ahead. A deep sense of foreboding and hostility has engulfed much of the Northern hemisphere and one can only hope that these people bang their heads together and diffuse the powderkeg that’s blatantly waiting to go off. I don’t wish to politicise this particular album, because it certainly isn’t that. But while listening to ‘Psychonauts’, the fourth track from Londoners Bast’s debut album ‘Spectres’, there was an undeniable tension as I listened to the track building, with the bass and the rumbling beat of the drums ratcheting up my senses as I read the sensationalised headlines in front of me.
Pulling myself back out of such matters, ‘Spectres’ is proof of how UK doom is flourishing. Acts like Bong and Conan (to name two) are showing our country is just as good in unleashing all manner of long droning riffs, thunderously low grooves and sometimes tempos so slow a sloth could outrun them, than the prolific number of acts from the US and from Europe. Bast aren’t anywhere as droning as Bong or groovesome as Liverpudlians Conan (whose Jon Davis has put out ‘Spectres’ as his new label Black Bow Records’ debut release, alongside Dutch label Burning World). They instead focus on melding other genres, chiefly black metal, into their mix. The opening track ‘In The Beginning’ presents them in blackened territory as they speed along before hitting the brakes in the closing half of the song, closing it out with some chunky slow riffing, which they take into the next song, ‘Denizens’. This one creeps along with impressive cavernous trepidation before exploding into a phenomenal depressive black metal section and subsequently simmering back into apocalyptic doom again. The aforementioned ‘Psychonauts’ brilliantly plays out with Neurosis-style build-up before reaching a post-rock crescendo in dramatic circumstances, while the finishing track starts off with a bleak doom riff before finishing ten minutes later with wild riffing and solo worship. Put simply, Bast are the latest strong addition to the UK’s growing army of doom, with a sound more varied than most, and in ‘Spectres’, creating an album that surely deserves not to fall on deaf ears.