‘Brothers of the Sonic Cloth’, the eponymous debut release from a trio of veteran Seattle doomsters is not easy listening; let’s face it, uneasy listening would be a better description of this unflinching slab of brutality. ‘Lava’ opens the album with a riff that for a few seconds teases at the possibility a traditional metal album before the vocals surge forth, their sheer weight dragging down the otherwise deceptively upbeat tempo with a combination of deep growls and hell born screams. When ‘Empires of Dust’ slogs forth with the sheer density to make the current incarnation of Electric Wizard utter a collective “what the fuck!”, there is no doubt that you in for some epic doom. Riffs and drum beats slog forth with the pace of a decaying zombie walking into the force of a hurricane of darkness, whilst the bass shakes its fist at the heavens with anger and contempt. Yes, you could start a pit to this track, but if you moved to the beat, you’d need a time lapse camera to capture the movement.
As a brief respite from the sonic assault, ‘Unnamed’ opens with a gentle guitar break, a theme to contemplate the beauty of darkened moors, before the band summon a storm of black clouds to rain down deafening sheets of thunder and ire, the down tuned slog of the guitar counterpointed by occasional buzz saw sprints and harmonised vocals of the damned. If this eight minute plus epic were not enough to batter the listener into submission, it is followed by the eleven minute beating that is ‘La Mano Poderosa’, a track that doesn’t so much smash into the listener with the weight of a steamroller, rather slowly crush them with the inexorability of an advancing ice age destroying the landscape before it. Not everything is delivered at a leaden pace, and within the boundaries of the song the band is free to expand and develop their sound, a stoner vibe being explored as the lead guitar plays against and around the rock solid beats of the rhythm section.
I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of the album complete with two bonus tracks, ‘The Immutable Path’, and the closer ‘Outro’. Whilst the former is an exercise in feedback and a near monastic dirge over industrial drum beats, the latter is an echoing piano, the soundtrack to the breakdown of a classical musician.
Whilst Brothers of the Sonic Cloth may well be a new band, they are made of three veterans of the scene, Tad Doyle (ex-TAD and Hog Molly), Peggy Doyle, and Dave French, and all their years of experience have been distilled and concentrated into an emphatic statement of their undoubted pedigree. This album is not for those who need their music light and airy; however, if your idea of a good musical time is wading through a sea of hateful sludge, look no further!