OK let’s take this from the top or summit. Sherpa Tenzing, Edmund Hilary, Sly Stallone, Brian Blessed – sorry guys you have been usurped there is a new mountaineer in my life. Oakland, California is not an area known for its mountain ranges but it is well known for birthing awesome musicians and this is one such group. Recently expanding from a trio to a quintet the band have stated that this growth has improved their song-writing and now will give them the opportunity to play live. Hurry up scientists and find a cure for this Corona bullshit coz everyone deserves to hear the tracks from this album live.
Bloodletting – an ancient ritual used by ancient mystics and more recent medics to treat many afflictions of the body and mind. A sense of catharsis, of releasing pressure is felt by many when blood is spilled in a controlled way. This of course spills over into emotional and mental health issues and can manifest itself in self harm. www.mind.org.uk offer great support for those people who require it regarding such issues. Why bring up this information in a review for a sludge/doom/post rock album?
Well the title of the album is totally apt. The music offered up here is auditory catharsis. It’s mix of beauty, melody, grandeur and epic heaviness is the metaphorical opening of floodgates.
Those times when sadness, frustration and tension have built inside your mind and body for so long that you lose focus on what is important. Lose the ability to prioritise your tasks and wonder if you will ever be able to feel anything but pain again. Then, if you are fortunate, just as you reach a breaking point where you feel as though your mind will snap something inside you , be it your ID, your chi, your soul, your crocodilian brain ; whatever your belief system names it , that something pops the tension with a golden claw and you breakdown. With the tears and juddering sobs comes an incredible feeling of release. A sorrowful orgasm if you will. The splitting of the plastic bag around your head, the crack in the ice that is suffocating you.
Bloodletting sounds like that moment. Pure melancholic release. The splendour of the happy/sad. The knowledge that you have reached the bottom of the pool and can now kick for the surface.
Every track is filled with wonder, shot through with sadness, peppered with smiles and laced with angry hope. Prog mixes with the darkest murkiest sludge. Doom walks hand in hand with the most ethereal post rock. At times it is the sound of your first kiss, at others your most heartbreaking split. Each track is overflowing with emotion but there is no sense of overload just an aching for the next rack and the next vibrant taste of the bittersweet fruit.
At times they are Porcupine Tree, at others Alcest, Yob, Converge, My Dying Bride. At others, none of those. The vocals are sometimes abrasive yet warm and others post hardcore but chilling. Emotional is an epithet that is rarely attributed to heavy music, at least not respectfully. Mountaineer have created an album that maps so much of the feelings that I find are ignored by many of the artists that I love. In this release they have truly plugged a gap.
(10/10 Matt Mason)