Sunday, March 27, 2011

Blue Sabbath Black Cheer / Wicked King Wicker / Irr.App.[Ext]

Blue Sabbath Black Cheer & Irr. App. [Ext.]
Skeletal Copula Remains
Gnarled Forest Recordings [GF42] / Errata In Excelsis [eie010]
LP. 500 copies. Comes with 18” x 35” poster and insert

Blue Sabbath Black Cheer/Wicked King Wicker
Gnarled Forest Recordings [GF43] / Noiseville 95
Split LP. 300 copies plus insert.

Theres only so much you can do with a guitar tuned all the way down to ‘e’. It’s a great sounding doomy chord but If you want to further explore the deepest corners of doom and desolation then you need something else to get you there. I guess thats why bands like Wicked King Wicker and Blue Sabbath Black Cheer exist. Taking the premise that dark is good, noise is good, death is good, destruction is good and all things black are good they take that darkness mix it with a noise aesthetic and create whole new worlds of sonic nihilism and swirling vortexes of despair into which the likes of Earth and Sunn O))) get sucked only to be spat out the other end with with their monks cowls torn and dripping wet.

To be honest I never got my head round those early doom heavy bands - wave after wave of ululating low end hum, dry ice and expensive double albums - if I wanted something heavy to listen to then I’d dig out an old Sabbath album. I remember seeing a John Fahey interview in which he said he’d been experimenting with tuning all his guitar strings down to e and hawking the results round various shops and labels only to be told that the genre was called doom metal and was already quite popular. Listening to the odd doom related album does me no harm though. I theoretically place my back to the wall, turn up the volume and get down with the low end vibes. Its mutating though and mutating into something far more interesting.

Blue Sabbath Black Cheer have graced these pages before, their collaboration with The Nihilist Assault Group went down well here. It was an interesting construct with both artists striving for the same result whilst coming from different angles of the noise spectrum. Sadly I feel it doesn't work with Irr. App. [Ext.].  Irr. App. [Ext.] come from a background linked with Nurse With Wound not doom and destruction. Skeletal Copula Remains feels like a case of too many cooks too. Throw in the guitar of Mason Jones and the synth of John Lukeman [albeit on one track] and you can almost feel the claustrophobia. Theres four tracks with the titles giving you clues; ‘Subterranean [Insurgence]’, ‘Brennschluss --> Extinction’, ‘Crawling Eruptions’ and the side long ‘Glutton’. Couple all this to the black and white art work of viscera, bones. ethereal creatures and the enormous fold out poster and you have somebody going all out to make a big impression. And then you play it and it all seems a bit messy. Death, doom and destruction are there in spades but it feels like everybody involved here tried to cram in every one of their nuances and it makes for an unbalanced listen. Starting with a gong crash the three tracks on side one do their best to create symphonic death ambience with hyenas tearing flesh apart and the squealing noise guitar of Mason Jones [which comes at you like a thousand squeaky gates all banging together at three in the morning] but it never quite gets off the ground. The side long ‘Glutton’ works best but spoils itself by introducing actually introducing those low e tuned guitars when it would do better to dispense with. Thrum thrum thrum thrum slow steady droney thumps and then a suction pump stuck into the open gut wound of a dying alien, stalking music, guttural wolf growls, limbs being twisted apart, cartilage popping, it gets louder then cuts to the sound of animals chewing, zoo screams, someones shooting all the parrots whilst someone else plays with a squeaky door. Door shuts. Record ends. Its hard to engage with much of this with one sound being replaced by another before it has chance to make an impression. The second half of Glutton contains some genuinely ear teasing sounds though but all the posters and fancy art work in the world doesn’t make up for the fact that is only half way there.

The split LP proves to be far more rewarding. Blue Sabbath Black Cheer’s ‘March Of The Damned’ is like being stuck halfway down a subway tunnel with the cars hurtling past two inches from your nose. Its Earth crossed with the low end rumble of a Merzbow gig. Sunspots erupt, Howler monkeys scream, demented souls are tortured for eternity, as it ebbs away slowly rotting bodies swing on charred tree limbs. The shorter ‘Into Nothing’ is even more sublime, it captures desolation perfectly; cold iron on stone, creaking boat timbers, dying breaths, distant bombs.
Utilising bass guitar and noise Wicked King Wicker create walls of noise doom. Its the next step up the evolving noise ladder with doom metal at its heart but with noise treatments giving it the room to unfold into ever more fractured and discordant patterns. On ‘Now That We’re Dead To You’ tumbling chords of ultra distorted bass guitar and noise gadgets create a claustrophobic atmosphere that builds to a wayward crescendo. Bass notes become muffled screams, noises become ever more disorientating the whole thing rupturing revealing its component parts on ending. Given a side each and left to their own devices both BSBC and WKW produce far more cohesive works. I think I may be a fan.


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