Just as a bit of background, Edinburgh’s sons of the sombre Of Spire & Throne have been around less than four years and ‘Toll Of The Wound’ is their third EP following on from a recent gigantic split with the equally crushing Ortega. We’re in doom/sludge territory here so despite my well documented love of their previous EPs (‘The Trial Of Failure’ and the monolithic one track ‘Vagary’) I was nervous about hearing this due to the ever expanding swamp of pointless, dull sludge out there. I mean, what if…
Ah, I’m a faithless bastard. Of Spire & Throne have far more vision and talent than to fall into that morass. Far more. Three tracks; half an hour of dark, ominous crushing sludge rooted doom that seeps into your soul and slowly but surely bends it into shapes and shadows.
‘Legacy’ opens with striking guitar sounds, slow beating bass drums, a sound that fills old rooms with a black miasma that breathes two or three times before the percussive riff finds it and obliterates it. Deathly breathed vocals, deceptively intricate twists to the drumming, moments of discordant guitar, frightening occasional keyboard sounds and yet always the punishing riff like Warhorse on ‘As Heaven Turns To Ash’ dredging a decaying city for corpses.
You see, Of Spire & Throne make me see things with their music. They invoke visions with their intense attention to detail married to a truly fine feel for the bleak sounds they conjure. Somehow they birth a hybrid here that calls up a sense of architecture; monolithic buildings built by deluded egos falling into an organic ruin. Corrupted. The word and the band. ‘Tower Of Glass’, the second, shortest at eight minutes and for me the best track they have written so far, embodies this. Minimal drumming, mostly rim taps and delicate cymbal work, rumbling and whirring and whispering keyboards, great down-tuned guitar and bass; this is mesmerising, dark and frightening music but also enthralling and transporting. Utterly brilliant. They close this novella with ‘Cascading Shard’, nearly thirteen minutes of harsh, distorted doom; the Sabbathum feel, pulled deadweight through filthy streets. Vocals almost breathed over the riff, a slow, rough hewn beast once more, like one of William Hope Hodgson’s watchers from The Night Land. The band just have a touch, knowing how long to let a chord, a note or a sound pulse for to fill the listeners head with the bleak but irresistible menace they create. They use drums with imagination and keyboards with a light but perfectly placed judgement.
Touchstones might be Highgate, Warhorse, Corrupted, even Sabbath but the result is perfectly, undeniably, dark and glistening Of Spire & Throne. I always thought they could be something intriguing and special. With Toll Of The Wound they have assured me they are.