Comprised of three members of Sunn O))) (Attila Csihar, Stephen O’Malley and Oren Ambarchi), you’d be forgiven for thinking that Gravetemple are just a vanity project, however, while their sound may borrow elements from the aforementioned, this particular band are a different beast entirely. ‘Impassable Fears’ follows on from the debut ‘The Holy Down’ and is their first release in 10 years. It also sees drummer Matt ‘Skitz’ Sanders depart the band, leaving Oren to take over on percussion.
Whereas ‘The Holy Down’ consisted of one gargantuan hour-long monolith of a song, ‘Impassable Fears’ sits at a much more reasonable 45 minutes, split across six tracks. For those used to the glacial, bone shattering chords of Sunn O))), this record will feel much more extreme, even manic at times. There’s a heavy sense of improvisation and the percussion takes centre stage for much of the album. This is hardly surprising when we take into consideration the fact that not only is Oren behind the drum kit, but Attila was also given drum samples and loop stations to experiment with, which often results in audial chaos, especially on songs such as ‘World Out of Date’.
This isn’t so much a record you’ll listen to as it is something you’ll get lost in or simply endure, dependent on how it affects you. ‘Impassable Fears’ has both the ability to captivate and to unnerve and the experience depends entirely on your mind set. This absolutely will not be an album that’s for everyone and there is a fair argument out there somewhere for this being overly gratuitous, pretentious bullshit. However, it is undeniably creative mayhem caused by three of extreme music’s most brilliant minds and, for those with the acquired taste, it will be well worth the listen.
(7/10 Angela Davey)