Close the Hatch – Modern Witchcraft (Red Moth Records, 22 May 2020)
Mountaineer – Bloodletting (Lifeforce Records, 22 May 2020)
Good afternoon and happy Friday to all you wonderful people out there!
Day job insanity has really caught up with me this week; my apologies, but that’s why I missed out on writing anything here yesterday. Today isn’t much better — so I’ll have to make this quick — but I didn’t want another day to pass without sharing new music with you folks.
For your Memorial Day weekend perusal, here are a pair of albums that just came out today, from two bands residing on opposite ends of the country, but which are both at least somewhat doom-metal-adjacent. Hope you enjoy them!
Close the Hatch are headquartered in Dayton, whose claim to fame is being where the Wright brothers came from, and therefore as the Ohio license plates say, the “birthplace of aviation.” Modern Witchcraft, the latest in a long string of releases dating back about eight years or so, finds the quartet conjuring up eight new tunes filled with weighty, doomy riffs — but also infused with loads of atmosphere.
Opener “Death of Wolves” perfectly complements the music’s overall ambiance with layers of dreamy, almost somnolent “shoegaze” style vocals; this blend of styles carries on throughout the next few songs, but then the sound of the vocals (as well as that of the atmospherics surrounding the doomination, so everything still complements nicely) gradually starts to shift within the next few tracks, to much more of an early-00s Deftones tone — a transformation that has been fully realized by the time “Exit Anxiety” rolls around.
Despite a name that makes them sound like residents of neighboring West “By God” Virginia, Mountaineer actually reside in Oakland, which is located in the San Francisco Bay Area, a region with a rich cultural history, but with no actual mountains. Today they drop their third album of their five years of existence, Bloodletting.
Leading track “Blood of the Book” is introduced with a multi-layered wordless chorus — strangely, bringing to mind the opening moments of Duran Duran‘s “The Reflex,” although much more somber and melodic, and with matching gravitas in the music that enters right after. From there, though, an unexpected twist finds the band transmogrifying into some sort of epic funeral doom monstrosity. This sudden evolution is short-lived, though, as the track soon takes on a much more melodic-epic-doom quality.
Clean melodic vocals, sweeping grand guitar (and occasionally keyboard) chords complete the new outfit, one that continues to be sported throughout the eight tracks that follow. Midway through “Shot Through with Sunlight” develops into somewhat of a harsher yelling, which is then followed by a long and meandering instrumental passage, but for the most part you will find all the melancholic melodies and mournful singing you could hope for. Overall, I’d call it kind of a progressive-post-epic-doom (or maybe epic-post-progressive-doom, whichever you prefer).
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