Blackened post metal. It dooms.
Encircling Sea are a band from Melbourne who have been at this for a few years now, they’re no strangers to the dark end of metal and this (their fourth release) sees them reaching utterly filthy depths and sheer doom as if it was nothing.
The 5 tracks run for about 50 minutes and most of that is taken up by thick, fuzzed out guitars tuned to drop-fuck-off (yes that’s a real tuning) and these brutal, hauntingly demonic vocals. The low guttural type, not the shrill comedic high pitched evil chipmunk kind. Despite nearly no variation in his delivery, I never tired of it. It’s really consistant and menancing.
Actually I lie, there’s some beautiful clean vocals and harmonies hidden in the mid section of the final track ‘Kinsoil’. If not for the surprise appearance of melodies and hushed voices, the impact of the enormous ‘roar’ and furious, epic shred/blast fest that follows all equalled to the equivalent smack of cold wind in the face first thing in the morning as you leave the warmth and comfort of the bed.
That leads me the other hero of our story: The drums. They vary from a-typical blasts of a black metal band to the slower pounding more reminiscent of a post rock outfit. It’s actually really quite engaging as each layer of the band gets to operate at different levels and sometimes it’s the drums who get to do some unexpected things. I havwe to say that anyone who can keep up the pace like that…for so long…needs a beer. Or a medal. Or both.
The latter half of track #2 ‘Elderfire’ shows just how the sludgey riffage and slow chords movement sit really well over the top of the frantic pace and blast beats and it’s this kind of juxtaposition that really brings it home. See with a band like say.. ISIS, Tides or Mono you get a set tempo and everything kind of flows and builds from there. With Encircling Sea’ the gears shift (not the time signatures) and feeling shifts with it while never loosing momentum. It’s really very good.
The overall sense I get is perhaps that the band got a little adventurous and branched out in different ways by tapping into a more atmospheric and melodic space but never strayed too far from the blackened doom they deliver so well.
‘Everoak’ is another good example. You get 7 minutes of pure slow, heavy doom and then a drop off which lets the band breathe a bit. The clean guitars and tempered drums take it out to a close as if someone is walking away with the song paying through speakers, past the pews in a cathedral, out the foyer, down the stairs and away. It feels measured and deliberate upon reflection but at the time…and in the context of the song it was a welcome surprise. Totally depressing and perfect.
I’m not one to go looking for blackened/crust/doom anything but I am glad I got to hear this. Very heavy, very well balanced and consistent material. The mix is dead set gold and well polished to have every instrument sit where it should be. Basically it sounds great. I think this will utterly destroy in a live setting. What a terrific addition to our brimming extreme music scene!
For fans of: Departe, Lo!, META, Deadspace, post metal and blackened doom!