I had the pleasure of reviewing Scottish sludge doom band Of Spire & Throne’s last EP ‘ The Trial Of Failure’ back in 2011 and to say I enthused about that one is a fairly understated comment. So unsurprisingly I was pleased as anything to land this one too.
Once again, the bands score top marks and a big smile for the quality of this self releases presentation. Thought and style in the stiff black card envelope cover and white inner sleeve. Yes we are here to talk about music but, honestly, it just screams care and attention.
So what does a doom band with a thick sludge drenched sound do with twenty one minutes of studio time? The fear of course is that they drone on and grind your attention down to boredom. Thankfully Of Spire & Throne have so much more about them than that. It is more that they decided there was no need to rush the opening out of this song.
It begins with a slow, ponderous doom riff soaked in a thick sludge sound, just slowly waking as the tight drumming pushes into the morass. The vocals are breathy slow growls, almost exhalations pushed out from some dark corner by the rhythm. It has the same bleak, crushing beauty that Warhorse created on their old classic ‘ As Heaven Turns To Ash’ but Of Spire & Throne let some melody squeeze out of the darkness. Just drops; an over arching counterpoint here, a hint of controlled feedback there like molten gold from a thin vein in the sedimentary rock. Somewhere around the eleven minute mark this takes centre stage with an eerie tone before the riff collapses back over it and the mudslide inches forward again towards the inevitable slow demise. This great hulk shifts tempo and direction by inches like a supertanker struggling too turn but move and develop it does and you end up kind of marvelling at the effort.
It is a fascinating and engrossing twenty minutes; it’s as though you have been hiding, holding your breath in the dark as something monolithic slowly slouched past you on the way to whatever drew it on. You are uncertain if it was mechanical or organic or some twisted mutation of both but it was there and there was the unmistakeable glistening of black intellect in its passing. There it’s the unavoidable sense of foreboding with this style of music, but Vagary never makes you want to look away, it almost compels you to watch and replay the moment.
Of Spire & Throne continue to improve and totally impress. For me they are up there with Conan as one of the bestUKdoom sludge outfits currently crushing skulls.
Now for fuck’s sake someone give these guys enough studio time to record an album, willya?