August 3, 2017

Owlcrusher - Owlcrusher

By Bryan Camphire.. Ireland's Owlcrusher have just released a colossal LP of crushing apocalyptic doom. I first heard of this fine record by way of a social media account of Malthusian. Any release that is recommended by a band
By Bryan Camphire.

Artwork by Andrew Cunningham

Ireland's Owlcrusher have just released a colossal LP of crushing apocalyptic doom. I first heard of this fine record by way of a social media account of Malthusian. Any release that is recommended by a band as great as that is something worth checking out, went my logic. Still, I wasn’t prepared to be bowled over by a debut as solid as this.

The record is self-titled. It features three long-form songs that clock in at 43 minutes total. Tempos are slow; the band takes it's sweet time to bore these tunes deep into your skull. The production is massive. This was reputedly many years in the making, and it shows. Attention to detail is evident throughout every minute of this blisteringly heavy release.

The second track, like the band name and the album title, is also called Owlcrusher. For this reason, the name merits some thought. In many cultures, owls are thought of as being messengers of the dead. In the Indonesian language, to name but one example, the term for owl is ‘burung hantu’, which, transliterated, means, ‘ghost bird’. An Owlcrusher could be an inter-dimensional equalizer.

Taking cues from the beautiful cover art--which, incidentally, was done by a member of Malthusian--an Owlcrusher might be a demonic hand that disposes of the husks of these emissaries between the realms of the living and the netherworlds after they’ve outlived their purpose. …Or the name might have some altogether different meaning. In any case, it’s evocative and thusly it suits this music.

What gripped me right away about this music is that it plays with both major and minor scales within single chord progressions. Darkness cuts through the light and vice versa. These contrasts make for songwriting rich with tension and release. It's a very deliberate choice, and one that's executed here with tremendously dramatic results.

The first track, "Feeble Preacher", deploys a vast array of vocal styles. Agonised cries intermingle with guttural throat song interspersing with liturgical chants. It’s a heady cocktail to be sure. You can almost smell incense wafting from a brass decanter as the power chords resound as though throughout a vast cathedral. It is both hypnotic and cavernous.

Time is elastic throughout this record. Fittingly, the drummer maximizes the expansive amounts of space created within the music. As each cadence crests, the percussion predicates the phrasings with ample finesse.

A deep sense of balance pervades this music, and it draws upon the history of the form just enough to allow it to innovate. Owlcrusher have prayed at the pyre of Burning Witch, imbibed plenty of Toadliquor and supped from the Fleshpress long enough to know how to make a great doom record through and through. The band just signed to Seeing Red Records, and it's heartening to know that this tremendous record is seeing a proper release. Owlcrusher is definitely a welcome addition to the hallowed canons of doom.

Tagged with 2017, blackened doom metal, Bryan Camphire, Owlcrusher, sludge metal
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