Apart from having a name that sounds like a Goth girl’s Facebook pseudonym, Spider Kitten are arguably one of the most prolific bands on the UK doom scene. Don’t believe me? Go to their bandcamp page (link below) and you’ll see well over twenty offerings, some live, some covers, but on the whole original work and all available for download for the grand sum of “name your price”! Even the few pieces of physical media they produce are eminently reasonably priced, and I’m lucky enough to have copies of their last self-released album ‘Cougar Club’ and a split with Atomck on CD in my collection. Clearly, I’d recommend you to give this Welsh four piece featuring members with CVs that include such venerated acts as Taint, Acrimony, Iron Monkey and Sigiriya a go, and encourage you to make fair payment for the quality work they’ve put on offer so far, but I’m here to review their first signed release via Undergroove Records, the epically titled ‘Behold Mountain. Hail Sea. Venerate Sky. Bow Before Tree’; time to crack on.
With such a massive pedigree of doom, you’d expect the album to be as heavy as fuck, and in that respect, you’d be right, the band displaying their continuing obsession with vintage equipment, their sound having a dark fuzzy edge that speaks volumes of their use of classic amps and vintage instruments, a stripped back and retro sound somewhat at odds with their massive online presence. First into the fray in this trio of Viking inspired tracks is ‘Lindisfarena’, a number dominated by a dirty chugging bass riff like the striking of longboat oars through the surf as it rams its prey, accompanied by battle-cry gang vocals of blood thirsty reavers. However, don’t be fooled by this review into thinking it’s shanty along battle metal a la Turisas; this is music of the dark and dirty underbelly of Norse epics, where a night of quaffing mead is not followed by glorious battle overseen by sexy Valkyrie maidens, but by throbbing hangovers and a desire to die!
‘Bearded Axe’ follows at a funereal slog, vocals of sword wielding battle promises interlaced with discordant psychedelic chants and a sludgy guitar solo that creeps forth like Loki from a place of darkness, and please, immediately throw any image of the suave Marvel portrayal from your mind, fun though it may be, and instead think of the mythical demonic figure who fathered the apocalyptic Fenrir Wolf and World Serpent, as well as bearing the child of a magical stallion to give birth to Odin’s steed Sleipnir! I think Thor would be a very different film franchise if it involved Tom Hiddleston being serviced by a stallion. Spider Kitten continue to exploit the dark and brutal original stories of Norse mythology with the final multi-movement track ‘Gore Swan, Of the Land, Of the Sea, Of the Sky’, that over an epic 14 plus minutes encompasses a gentle yet bleak acoustic guitar opening that is battered aside by a crushing wall of riffs that are in turn replaced by the extended lament of a cello accompanied by the sounds of a creaking sail boat aboard a rolling ocean, the track concluding with a wall of swirling Hammond organ stabs and howling guitar heroics.
Whilst only three tracks and not even half an hour long, in this release Spider Kitten have explored and combined more sounds and diverse elements than many acts will in their entire career, and made it into a superlative advert for their underappreciated creativity. Already the band have their follow up underway, just underpinning how prolific they are; they are an act that whilst almost defining the underground sound with their ethos of self-sufficiency, needs and deserves greater coverage which ‘Behold Mountain. Hail Sea. Venerate Sky. Bow Before Tree’ will hopefully bring them.