(Black Bow Records/Burning World Records)
'Spectres' is the debut release from UK Sludge/doom Metal trio Bast and the long awaited full length follow up to their 2011 demo 'Branches In The Earth, Roots In The Sky'.
If you are not familiar with this EP or have not managed to catch them live, they play a mix of black Metal and doom that is heavy beyond belief.
In true doom tradition, the release is just five tracks, encompassing forty-six crushing minutes and opening with 'In The Beginning' which has a slow haunting builder but a minute into the track it develops a dark intensity to the sound that is oppressively crushing and this is completed by impressively harsh and tortuous vocals that are also clearly defined. Woven into this dark 'doomscape' there is also a psychedelic element which makes it all the more interesting.
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Something this deeply drenched in doom can't drop in tempo, instead on 'Denizens' the mood elevates to a refreshing lighter feel before the onslaught of a faster, more manic segment which gives this track a particularly experimental feel. The vocal boundaries are really pushed also with some superbly tortuous screams, all of this making it such a superb track.
Beginning on an intense and surprisingly upbeat tempo that still manages to remain as heavy as hell, title track 'Spectres' does drop away to a gut wrenchingly heavy and doom laden finale, the combination of which makes for an enthralling listen.
With its dark, psychedelic, droning opener 'Psychonauts' is the longest track at almost twelve minutes, eerie and haunting, expanding out into a drum beat and atmospheric bass build that has an astoundingly cavernous feel to its sound, a stunning, instrumental track with some very effective drum work.
On 'Outside The Circles Of Time' a gentle reflective opener plummets away to a darker doom rich mood. I love the vocals on this track, cleaner but with a rich harsh edge to them that become more tortuous as the sound becomes more dense and intense, demonstrating what a great vocal range Craig Bryant is capable of; an excellent final track to an equally excellent album.
The album was recorded at Skyhammer Studio, produced by Chris Fielding and the artwork is by vocalist/ guitarist Craig Bryant. The album will also will be released on black vinyl, limited to 300 copies with worldwide shipping available. This is a joint release between Black Bow Records and Burning World Records, Black Bow will handle vinyl and cassette and Burning World will handle CD and online distribution.
If you're a fan of Altar Of Plagues, Winterfylleth, Neurosis, Eagle Twin or Eyehategod you may well find this a more than interesting listen. I really enjoyed 'Branches In The Earth, Roots In The Sky' but Bast have really progressed since then and surpassed themselves with the superbly experimental and boundary pushing 'Spectres'.