Thu 5th July 2012
This is a stonker already and we're only a few moments in.
Bastard of the Skies have teamed up with Catatomic to create this split LP. Certainly an idea that's been done to death with EPs and 7"s, but a full album? Let's see.
Bastard of the Skies are a hulking metallic beast that churns riffs like a giant robot jaw chewing cars. Impassioned screams and some mid-paced hardcore-inspired chops give them a weighty, stoner rock-gone-tar-like sound. It's as if someone gave Eyehategod a clean-up, it's not offensive and sick like the New Orleans troupe can be, rather a 90s stoner rock band gone sludge. The strident Sabbathian worship turning over under the surface is palatable, but BOTS have their own sound. The chug-chuggery is pleasingly head-nod inducing and tracks like 'The Knuckles of Saint Bronson' showcase their bestial heroics perfectly.
'Gray's Sports Almanac' has a more post-metal feel, with the pressure off the gas, there's certainly more doom-esque room for the band to show their muscles, long sustained notes provide that cathartic strain that only doom can really pull off, nice.
What most people will be pleasantly be surprised by however is their epic cover of Neil Young's 'Don't Let It Bring You Down'. I've always thought Neil Young's music and lyrics really lend themselves to metal, particularly doomish stuff like this. Those epic lines 'Don't let it bring you down/It's only castles burning' take on extra weight when delivered over soaring, distorted notes. There's class in picking a suitable cover, blast out something cliched and it can backfire, badly, but this is excellent. Extending it with some interesting high-pitched notes and some solitary drumming towards the end is inspired too.
Much more steeped in black smoke and a somewhat more esoteric offering is Catatomic's side. Starting with the slow-moving, retro-sounding 'Void'. Obviously fans of trad doom like Wytchfynde or perhaps fans of Celtic Frost, Catatomic sound weirdly like a rural and folk-i-fied Khang (if you can recall those Bardfordian stoners). If not, imagine a tube amp-addled sound that hinges on being borderline museum material moving at just above snails' pace and you have the music. It breaks off now and again into more melodic acoustic sections, but generally it's acrid and full of earthy power.
The vocals are perhaps the weirdest part, half-spoken, half-sung, they are understated and gloomy, the lyrics sounding like the half-thoughts of a dirty old man at times. 'You don't know how lucky you are/I'll tell you again/You don't know how lucky you are' sounds a bit like something you expect the titular tramp from Jethro Tull's song 'Aqualung' to be whispering through the schoolgates, a bit stalkerish.
Their second and final track 'I Went To You' starts off with delicate plucking of the acoustic and those ominous vocals come in, gently floating over the speakers in a haunting and flesh-creeping manner. It all becomes a bit cringeworthy towards the end, sounding a little bit like Current 93, but with none of the whimsical wordplay. Instead we get the line 'You don't know what love is/Until you grow old/And shit yourself' so yeah, take from that what you will.
In this case a split LP is split in terms of attitude, content and comfort, Bastard of the Skies lull you into a sense of security, before Catatomic become the ants at the picnic. I'm not 100% certain, but I'm pretty sure nobody likes ants at a picnic.