Thursday, 5 February 2015

Pombagira - Flesh Throne Press (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 23/3/2015
Label: Svart Records

‘Flesh Throne Press’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

-CD/LP 1-
1. The Way
2. Gather
3. Endless
4. Sorcerous Cry
5. Soul Seeker
6. Flesh Throne Press

-CD/LP 2-
1. In the Silence
2. Blessed Are the Dead
3. Time Stone
4. Ash to Flesh
5. I Curse I Pray
6. Cold Descent
7. Yesterday's Tomorrow


In 2013 Pombagira made a lasting impression on me with their 2-song, 42-minute album 'Maleficia Lamiah'. The distinctive guitar tone and ethereal mood of the record was unlike anything I've heard before or since. On March 23, Svart Records will release the London duo's sixth album, 'Flesh Throne Press', a sprawling 13-song double album. I've rarely been accused of greed, but 86-minutes just doesn't seem like enough.

There's an issue of Alan Moore's kitschy scientific superhero comic book magazine Tom Strong where the title character and his wife land on a hospitable-looking planet to go sightseeing on their space vacation. When they arrive they find no signs of life, just a lizard-man corpse in a space suit and a temple. Inside the temple the couple undergo a series of hallucinations which give them their heart's desire. It's as though they are drowning in an ocean of pleasure. By the time their emotionless robot servant rescues them we see that they are doing just that: drowning in pleasure. They are drowning and they know it but they don't care. The waves lapping against them feel like being kissed or stroked and they wear looks of bliss on their faces as they sink beneath the waves.

'Flesh Throne Press' is made of this same illusory material. I'm drowning in the tone but I don't care. The major theme of the album is necromancy; it dovetails with guitarist/vocalist Peter Hamilton-Giles upcoming book Grimoire of the Baron Citadel. According to press releases, the album's title is derived from the book's initiatory rite, wherein the body of the initiate is pressed upon by grave dirt.

The title track has been uploaded to Soundcloud as the album's first single. It's not the catchiest song on the record, but its representative of the album as a whole. For starters it's massive in size and tone. That tone is consistent throughout the album, with variations in mood along the way. Opening track "The Way", is recognizably spiritual in essence, with Gregorian chant-like modulations during the bridge it establishes an identity for the album.

‘Maleficia Lamiah’ broadcasted a change in the Pombagira’s style into a more psychedelic direction. Pete’s vocals lost their metallic edge and embraced the melodic. The one constant has been Carolyn Hamilton-Giles’s pounding, often larger-than-life drumming.

The vocals on ‘The Way’ bring to mind the science of singing and the theoretical origins of the practice. Singing is almost like a drug; it regulates our breathing and changes the flow of blood to the head so that the singer may experience a change in mood, reaching a euphoric state or even light headedness. In short, such vocal modulations induce a change of state in the singer, but what happens next is magical because the listener acquires a kind of contact high from the performance. Many bands talk about performing live "rituals", but a Pombagira show must be on another level.

It's a kind of worship, though not a joyous celebration. There is something dark upon the altar which the music conjures and Pombagira dare the congregation to stare into its heart. At 11 and a half minutes the song locks the listener in and if you're not convinced by the seven or eight minute mark the rest of the album is going to fall flat.

For lovers of midnight dark guitar tones, individualist visions, soul-wrenching vocals and progressive visions, you have just found yourself a new "workhorse" album. Be careful you don't wear out the grooves, like any illicit substance this music can be addictive. For those who can only think in terms of sharp boundaries and genre distinctions, you're not going to understand this album. Though Pombagira is often classified as stoner or doom metal, they are a different beast entirely. Pombagira makes progressive devotional music, as honest as a fascination with death. You'll recognize stoner and doom patterns as well as "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun"-type Floydian movements and high dosages of psychedelic shoegaze sounds, but thankfully Pombagira is making music for themselves, not to fit into any scene.

Words by: Lucas Klaukien

You can pick up a copy here

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