Wednesday, 4 January 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Bathsheba - "Servus"

By: Ben Fitts

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/02/2017
Label: Svart Records




The biggest strength of the album is its tactful and haunting use of atmosphere. This is achieved through the skilful use of dynamic contrast, organically unfolding transitions and changes in the timbre of the music, particularly in the playing of guitarist Dwight Goossens.  Tracks such as “Manifest” and “Demon” see Goossens change from chilling, ambient clean tones to rich, roaring fuzz tones that could satisfy even the hardest to please doom fans.

“Servus” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Conjuration Of Fire
2. Ain Soph
3. Manifest
4. Demon 13
5. The Sleepless Gods
6. I, At The End Of Everything

The Review:

It’s a very difficult feat to create something that is both bleak and immense, sparse yet enveloping. But that is exactly what Belgian doom quartet Bathsheba achieve on their debut full-length, “Servus”. Crawling tempos, smokey guitar tones, airily sinister vocals and thundering atmosphere define this album. One listen conjures images of ancient rituals performed by full moonlight, rotting, dusty tomes and a time when the world was still young, but so much darker.

The album’s opening track, “Of Fire” rumbles like a down-tuned earthquake, with an ominous but assuaging vocal line floating over the roar of the instruments. The most stoner-friendly track on the album, “Of Fire” builds to a climax of occult riffing and evil galore. “Servus” finds itself at its most blackened and fast-paced at the start of the next track, “Ain Soph”. However, at about a minute in, the track slows down to Bathsheba’s familiar tortoise pace as vocals significantly rougher than those found at the start of “Of Fire” join the clamour, and the ensemble is eventually joined by a surprisingly tasteful, spaced out saxophone.

 “Manifest” is the album’s longest number, and it spends over ten and a half minutes alternately wandering the cosmos and grooving on the most head banging, feel-good (relatively speaking) riffs to be found on the entire album. Following this lengthy, psychedelic exploration is what is perhaps the album’s standout track “Demon”. The track is loaded with malicious earworms of guitar riffs. These are the kind of doom riffs that are nothing but pure evil and embed themselves in your mind, the way an infectious pop song would.

The perfect soundtrack to performing Pagan magic appears on the following track, “The Sleepless Gods”. Ominous, surreal and ancient, “The Sleepless Gods” trudges through ringing fuzz and skin-crawling vocals, building to an aggressive groove, before returning to the track’s original mood for its conclusion. The album ends on the aptly named track, “I, At The End Of Everything”. Beginning like a bubbling cauldron, the track opens with bad dream atmospheres that gradually swell in intensity, building to the point of blood-curdling evil.

The biggest strength of the album is its tactful and haunting use of atmosphere. This is achieved through the skilful use of dynamic contrast, organically unfolding transitions and changes in the timbre of the music, particularly in the playing of guitarist Dwight Goossens.  Tracks such as “Manifest” and “Demon” see Goossens change from chilling, ambient clean tones to rich, roaring fuzz tones that could satisfy even the hardest to please doom fans. This diversity is matched in Michelle Nocon’s vocals, as she effortlessly navigates from ominous, witchy earcandy to raspy, hellish snarls, perhaps best exemplified on the album’s nearly eight and a half minute long closing track, “I, At The End Of Everything”.

Servus” is available to buy/preorder here
Band info: facebook || bandcamp

FFO: Serpentcult, Sardonis, Monarch, Death Penalty

No comments: