With “demanding full-time jobs”, these Hamburgers’ often struggle to find time to write, practice and record. And yet here they are with their second album having thrashed out a finished product down at Tonmeisterei Studio with producer Roland Wiegener (Omega Massif, Kodiak, Long Distance Calling). The end result is certainly meaty, but is there something missing?
The instrumental Tunguska opens out with a High On Fire-esque sludge-fuelled attack but soon backs off into meandering doomy passages. Very quickly it becomes apparent that their aspirations stretch no further than hitting a sonic peak and beating their heads against the resultant wall-of-sound until either they or the listener crack. Tracks simply melt into one another as the band vary their attack as little as possible. So close are some of the tracks in style, tone and pitch that you’d almost believe they occupy parts of one almighty whole.
Essentially, the concept of instrumental doom has always been a flawed one. It works, to a degree, if the songwriting is crafty enough and the players and production are of the highest quality. Here, there is merely a sense of being trapped inside one almighty 48-minute jam. Never has a band needed a vocalist more than this lot. They are essentially a combination of Baroness’ sludge and exploratory burble with Kongh’s blackened gnarl and sonic drift – of course, with those bands’ key vocal element removed.
Take “Schlagwetter”, it is the aural equivalent of the M25. It’s cyclical, lane-changing, fast-slow construction irritates to the point of distraction. A certain pleasure could be derived from ramming the volume up to neighbour-bothering levels, with the slow build and crush of “Zerfall” inevitably doing the most damage. Fear not, though, there are tracks that work. “Pechblende”, for the simple reason that it’s shorter running time matches the impact of its sparse content, and “Solaris” which thunders down within a vicious, chug-happy psychedelic groove.
The curse of time may be the deciding factor here then, but there is evidence that, on the stage, Shakhtyor could be quite the band. In the studio, they aren’t a million miles away from making their mark either, they just need to expand their minds and develop their vision. Here’s hoping the boss cuts them a little slack.
(5/10 John Skibeat)