September 21, 2016

Ramlord / Sea of Bones – Split

By Craig Hayes. Back in 2013, I wrote a review here at Metal Bandcamp praising stenchcore trio Ramlord’s second album, Crippled Minds, Sundered Wisdom. That review remains one of my favourite contributions to this site,
By Craig Hayes.

Artwork by Diego Bureau Anti-Art.

Back in 2013, I wrote a review here at Metal Bandcamp praising stenchcore trio Ramlord’s second album, Crippled Minds, Sundered Wisdom. That review remains one of my favourite contributions to this site, and to put that into wider context for you, I generally detest everything I write.

Not that Crippled Minds, Sundered Wisdom review, though. I like that, a lot. I think that review underscores that life (including writing, in my case) can feel like an unending struggle, and that the world often seems shockingly callous. That's why we revel in the kinds of twisted, cathartic noise that bands like Ramlord create. Although, it would be a lie to say that the band's music is any kind of soothing balm, as such.

We live in a world where even the things we love can easily end up crushing our souls, and Ramlord’s music really serves as a colossal-sized vent for releasing the pressure. If you think that sounds a little on the bleak side, then keep in mind that Ramlord know all about crushing souls. That's the band's bread and butter. They are masters of abject misery. And the good news on that front is that the world is apparently set on getting worse by the second. So Ramlord’s got tragedies galore to drawn upon.

Proof of that can be heard on Ramlord’s new split album with fellow gloom-mongers Sea of Bones. But, before we get to that split in full, it’s important to note that Ramlord’s sound is perfectly pitched to conjure the savagery lurking beneath society's crumbling facade. The music they make is a horrorshow; a churning mix of d-beat, crust, and filthy black metal. Or, as the band put it, “In stench we grind through the sludge we blacken.”

Sound good? Of course it does. Ramlord’s music is a glorious nightmare. (Equal parts Discharge, Dystopia and Venom, on a real bad trip.) The band’s two full-lengths and myriad splits have all been as primitive as they are nihilistic, and as fierce as they are feral, and Ramlord’s vocalist and guitarist Jan Slezak has an amazing lo-fi punk ’n’ metal side-project called Leather Chalice that’s equally as harsh and ultra-negative.

Ramlord’s contribution to their split with Sea of Bones consists of one lengthy track, “Incarceration of Clairvoyance (Part III)”. The track is a toxic brew of punked-up black metal, stripped to its bones, with gargling-acid vocals and icier, isolated scales offering brief moments of reprieve. “Incarceration of Clairvoyance (Part III)” is dissonant and chaotic, and like the rest of Ramlord’s odorous oeuvre, the track is steeped in doom and gloom and tailor-made to soundtrack our species' long-overdue downfall.

Speaking of doom and gloom, that’s where Sea of Bones enter the picture. Like a couple of the band’s nautically named brethren – see Buried at Sea and Graves at Sea – Sea of Bones also deliver massive, rolling waves of sludgy doom. Sea of Bones’ contribution to their split with Ramlord, “Hopelessness and Decay”, is an aptly titled lurch across bleak terrain. And if mammoth and morose songs set at a funereal pace appeal, then rest assured that “Hopelessness and Decay” will provide 10 minutes of fathomless despair.

Sea of Bones’ catalogue thus far (two EPs, a couple of full-lengths, and this split) has been replete with similarly sombre music. That said, Sea of Bones do incorporate a broader set of sonic influences than your bog-standard doom band. Post-metal looms large in the band's work, providing a undulating backbone to many of Sea of Bones' songs, and the band make great use of the texture and weight of their sound as a whole – à la Swans.

If you’re a fan of Neurosis’ latter era, then how Sea of Bones’ set about sculpting a towering missive like “Hopelessness and Decay” will be familiar. The band set a slow and increasingly tense tempo at first, and as the track steadily unwinds heavier and heavier elements are added, with each progression, large or small, hammered home for full aesthetic effect.

And that’s Ramlord and Sea of Bones’ split. Two bands mining a similarly wretched vein, although each approach that vein from an entirely different angle. For Ramlord, it’s all tooth and claw; a virulent and vicious attack of jagged, punked-up metal. For Sea of Bones’ it’s the slow and steady approach; with additional element added trampling the will even further.

Ramlord and Sea of Bones meet at the point where rack and ruin threaten to tip the balance. That’s life, I guess, one minute we’re hanging on and struggling through, and the next minute life can remind us that we were only ever a breath away from having our hopes shattered. Ramlord and Sea of Bones' split is the perfect accompaniment for wallowing in that fact. So how about I buy a copy, and then you buy a copy (because misery loves company), and then we all can march into the final flames together. Laughing our collective heads off at the fucking futility of it all.

Sweet dreams, my friends.

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