Kavyk – Hymns and Hollow Words (self-released, 22 April 2015)
Crawl – Old Wood & Broken Dreams (Stone Groove Records, 18 October 2014)
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen! Today I’m going to discuss a pair of releases — each of these was submitted to me by one of the members of each band a little while ago for me to check out, which I’ve done, and to share with all of you, which I’m doing now.
The first of these, released nearly a year ago, is the debut EP from a blackened doom band from Louisiana; although this band is relatively new, its members have been around for a while in various other projects (including one that was written about here on Valley of Steel, not long after the time this EP was released). The second one is a little older, almost a year and a half old by now, and it comes to us from a sludgier doom band out of Atlanta, Georgia — a band which also has been written about previously on this very website. And so, let’s just jump right in …
Running about thirteen and a half minutes, the two songs that make up Hymns and Hollow Words represent the first output from a group called Kavyk, whose members Troy Bennet (guitar), Maxwell Kimmons (guitar), Brian Eiermann (bass), and Anthony Martinez (drums) came together from various other ensembles in or near the Hammond, LA, area. Bennett in particular may already be familiar to you readers as the vocalist and guitarist of Withering Light, whose split with Barghest was reviewed here. Kavyk doesn’t have a vocalist of its own, though, or at least they didn’t at the time this EP was recorded, because each song features a guest performer covering those duties.
First, while we’re mentioning Barghest, the title track features that band’s Dallas Smith — in a somewhat ironic twist, because since that time, Kavyk/Withering Light‘s Bennett has also joined Barghest on vocals. Anyway, “Hymns and Hollow Words” is the shorter and faster of the two songs here, at five and a half minutes; the drumming is especially quick (employing double-kick practically the entire time), and guitars that use a semi-black metal style to play doom riffs. The vocals here are deep and gruff (although, just like in the singer’s own band, they tend to be kind of buried). Overall, this track is fast, furious, and noisy — like being caught in a powerful windstorm amidst huge chunks of flying debris, until it slows way the hell down in about the last minute or so.
Second track “The Duller the Eye” features Mike Thompson of Atlanta’s Withered. This one is longer (eight minutes), slower (for the most part), and generally has a sparser arrangement than its predecessor. Much of the song comes across as very dissonant (it’s hard to tell whether the guitars are in tune with each other, or even with themselves some of the time, which gives the whole thing a general feeling of unease. The bass sticks out more prominently in the mix here, and these vocals are also a bit more present, even deeper than in the other song and sounding like more of a ROAR. Until the band has solidified a permanent line-up it’s tough to gauge exactly what they’ll sound like, but judging from this pair of demo tracks it’ll certainly be interesting to find out!
Although this next group has been around a couple years longer, Old Wood & Broken Dreams is the first actual full-length issued by Crawl, who some of you may remember from their self-titled demo that was reviewed right here, a little over three years ago. The band is still infusing their doom metal with heaping helpings of sludge, and capping it off with plenty of southern charm. Between that demo, this album, and the occasional single or split record, this trio has managed to catch the attention of Domestic Genocide Records, with whom they just recently signed a contract (as depicted in the photograph above).
This album ranges from the minute-and-a-half sludge riff intro track “Crack Tea” all the way up to an eleven-and-a-half- and a twelve-and-a-half-minute song. Respectively, those would be “Pilldust” (which is very slow and repetitive, almost painfully long, using practically the same riff the entire time — and occasionally just a bit of melodic bassline peeking out over top of the fuzzy guitars — until about seven and a half minutes in, at which point it speeds up for like a minute, then returns back to the same riff the rest of the way) and “Nigredo” (named for an old alchemical term for something that has decomposed all the way to formless blackness; this song has somewhat of a more moderate tempo, although it does slow way down and becomes way more sparse about halfway through, before the pace picks back up and the intensity builds gradually over the final three minutes or so).
Somewhere in between those, you’ll find the bluesy sludge stomp “Don’t Kid Me” which features guest vocals by Chris Fane (of Iron Witch fame), the tribute to classic southern sludge heroes Buzzov*en “Useless,” and finally “3 A.M. and a Loaded Gun” which builds from a tapestry of interwoven old movie samples into something very slow, very sludgey, very noisey, and very dirgey.
Hymns and Hollow Words is free to download from Bandcamp (see below). Old Wood & Broken Dreams is available on CD here, digital download here, and you can also listen to it on Bandcamp (below). Enjoy!
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