Two bands, two tracks and 65 minutes of music! This is what we have from two of the UK’s stygian doom clad Lovecraft worshippers. This is a tribute to the Old Ones, embracing the mythos and the madness in musical form. One look at the striking cover art should send a shiver of cold dread down your spine, the time draws nearer for the awakening of Cthulhu, the end of the world approaches; could this be its soundtrack?
Well if the earth dies slowly perhaps!
Starting this all off are Hesper Payne, who crawled into the world from the NE void that is Newcastle. They have been around since 2004 and have various demos, EP’s and even an album of ‘Unclean Rituals’ released. Amongst their ranks they include members of Axis Of Perdition, Mine[thorn] and Void Of Silence and others. Their offering ‘The Deathless Dreamers Will’ is by far the more complex of the two tracks, whereas Sabazius ply their part with simplicity and repetition HP (ah see the congruity) go for a more in depth summonation with lots to digest and plenty going on in it.
Low intonations and ritualistic spoken words take us in before a weighty crush sees the instrumentation slothfully booming forth. Classic doom laden clean vocals are next as things settle, rising gracefully and drawing the listener in. Ebbing and flowing between calm reflective moments and more upfront and direct parts the track unfolds. I am reminded a little of earlier Cathedral at their more experimental but this is draped in a dark tar laden sludge as it slithers ever hungrier out the speakers. By the 20 minute mark hefty drum blows are marking time and the guitars are scything away, vocals are angrier and the track has gone into more of a death march, one that certainly necessitates head banging. At 32 minutes long this is a track that requires attention and needs to be listened to uninterrupted. By the time it draws closer to extinction it resembles an unholy mass with chants in full foul swing. You can almost smell the shroud of brimstone over it all, are the Old Ones summoned?
If not then we are led to Sabazius from the other end of the country the sunny seaside town of Brighton. This duo with members having served in Sea bastard, Funeral Hag and Killing Mode are a group whose name I keep hearing and they have a wealth of EP’s and splits and an album of ‘Devotional Songs’ behind them. As I mentioned their track is much less complex but what it makes up for in this respect it completely nails things with a mesmerising and mystical mood and repetitive instrumentation which works as musical necromancy putting a complete spell over the listener.
‘The Madness from the Sea’ for that is the altar we are placed at, is a work of simple keyboard notes building over warped sounds and gradually building guitar and bass work. Vocals are again spoken at first and it is as though we are being summoned to worship something dark and dreadful. Dum, Dum is the noise of the drum and it perpetuates this barren soundscape as vocals with distorted effect flow like black smoke and the strings strum along with it all with the fingers of the players perhaps bleeding and being worn down to the bone. I love the way the track downs half the tools and reverts back to the more acoustic parts of the melody, you know however the full weight will reverb back in before it is done. Making a track last so long is no easy task especially when it is not that varied but by making it go into an almost shamanic tribal and incredibly ritualistic beat Sabazius ultimately succeed and even repeated listens have kept my attention admirably. Having said that this is either a split release you will like or loathe, it certainly is not for everyone.
I feel somewhat guilty for not having heard more from both these groups, especially as they are from the UK and have quite a lot of material behind them. This was an incredibly intriguing introduction to both parties and if you want a proper copy of this album they are apparently released in a digipak limited to 100 copies, with an A4 poster of the stunning album artwork.
(8/10 Pete Woods)