Fusing doom metal and black metal together has been something of a fitting trend lately, especially for those who revel in concepts linked to the Occult and Satanic subject matter. However, when it comes to the musical culmination of both sub-genres, it tends to be the case that bands simply can’t get it right all the time. Sure, a couple of songs per every record set the standard, but more often than not, groups attempting this fusion end up meandering too far into either sub-genre, rather than resulting in a fluent, culminative style which is all their own. Such is not the case with US blackened doom group Bereft however, who earlier this year released their sophomore effort in Lands, a record which quickly proves to be among the best of its kind in 2017.
Lands stands out instantly thanks to the note-perfect albeit still sludgy performance of its opening salvo, “We Wept”, a thrilling opening number which thrives on the band’s collective ability to be as precise as they are monstrous. The different styles are pretty obvious: The atmosphere is thoroughly doom-laden and, even in pacier sections of the song, still maintain that sense of unhallowed dread until the bitter end. Despite such influences giving the impression that this is the work of an amateur group however, the song frequently strives for ambitious scope. This is in part thanks to the clean vocal delivery about halfway through “We Wept”, an aspect of the band’s performance which turns the boundaries of both doom and black metal on their respective hands, culminating in an experimental, almost psychadelic venture which sounds worlds apart from the copycats of this hybrid style.
“We Wept” isn’t even the best of what the band have to offer here. That particular comment is arguably saved for the album’s second song, “The Ritual”, which demonstrates progressive flair from the get-go. The first half is undoubtedly more of what Bereft do to the best of their ability, of course, but it’s with the second half that the band embark on instrumental excellence. The guitar work is performed with particular attention to detail, maintaining a versatile albeit still neolithic sound until the end. At times, there’s even reference to more atmospheric styles such as post-metal, yet with the band’s creeping apocalyptic visions still inherent, what we hear at this point is certainly not uplifting. What works best here-and on the album’s remaining two songs, “In Filth” and “Waning Light”, as well-is the band’s approach to introducing the best of both worlds, without treading any danger of becoming too top-heavy and creating a one-dimensional package. Instead, the album is wholly consistent thanks to the band never overdoing a particular style and letting the music flow freely.
Even with the rawer, pacier moments-as on “The Ritual”-there’s still this sense that Bereft know how to balance both sides of the same coin. They have the sludgy, doom-laden menace in spades, but it is saved from even the slightest hint of stagnation thanks to the overbearing bitterness of black metal-inflected musicianship, resulting in a sound which overall has plenty to offer its listener. Whilst the band experimented with this fusion on their debut album, Lands offers stunning delivery and fluent composition, and at the same time maintains the best of both doom and black metal to create a sound which is confidently unique and ambitious. This said, it’s certainly one of metal’s finest underground releases in 2017 so far.
Released: 31st March 2017
- We Wept
- The Ritual
- In Filth
- Waning Light