Sunday 2 February 2020

TORTUGA ~ DEITIES ..... review

An important factor, often overlooked, in a musical piece are its atmospherics and dynamics, it is all very well writing dark, macabre lyrical content but if you are unable to frame those lyrics within a suitably complimentary musical framework well its just won't work, just imagine Ozzy singing the lyrics to "Black Sabbath" against a bright poppy backdrop or a soulful brass arrangement, it would be almost laughable!
Poland's Tortuga understand atmospherics and their place in a musical context, the band combine a traditional set up of guitars, vocals, bass and drums with a heady mix of samples and synthesised effects to create a dark angular backdrop for their Lovecraftian themed tomes , a themes they explore in depth on their second full length album "Deities".

"Deities" begins it's assault on the senses with "Shining Sphere" a brooding dark instrumental underpinned by deep rumbling bass and tight solid percussion over which a mixture of shimmering arpeggios and thick guitar riffage compete with orchestral sounding synths. It's eerie, dark and "atmospheric" and sets the listener up nicely for what the rest of the album has to offer. "Esoteric Order" follows and like its predecessor starts off brooding and moody with Heszu's booming bass and Marmur's drums (no surnames here) laying down a jazzy doomic groove behind a short but highly effective vocal from guitarist/vocalist Bablo telling of Dagon the amphibious deity of the Deep Ones. The song then shifts through the gears and kicks into a Sabbathesque proto-doom groove with Bablo, joined by fellow guitarist Klosu, trading off Iommi flavoured licks and wah drenched solo's over a groove that shifts back and forth between slow and mid-tempo and is further enhanced by the clever use of movie/radio sound-bytes. Let it not be said that Tortuga are without a sense of humour, the band have their tongues firmly pressed into cheek for next track "For Elizard" a song sang from the perspective of a deity named Yig, the King of the Snakes, the vocals take on a suitable serpentine tone as "Yig" tells us of his hatred of Godzilla, going as far as saying "fuck Godzilla" and imparting the fact that "he's just a sleazy mutant" that "basically sucks" against a backdrop of fractured groove that's a mixture of heavy psych and theatrical stoner doom. "Defective Mind Transfer" and "Black Pharaoh II" follow, the first a schizophrenic instrumental embellished with synthesised swirls and short bursts of sampled narrative the second a heavy doomic tome tinted with bluesy undertones and boasting another suitably apt theatrical vocal. Listeners could be fooled into thinking that Tortuga have slightly dropped the ball on hearing the intro into "Trip", its slightly twee beginning meanders without actually going anywhere but then comes to vivid life when suddenly out of the blue it erupts into a galloping proto metal groove that finds Bablo and Klosu telling us in harmonised tones of a meeting with, another of Lovecraft's deities, Azathoth while tripping on acid, the attached soundbyte that accompanies the music proving just as entertaining as the songs lyrics. "GaleĆ³n de Manila" closes "Deities" and although Desert Psychlist is unsure of its connection with Lovecraft or its place within the album concept it is nonetheless a striking piece of doomic delight that begins with the sound of a howling wind behind spoken narrative,(Spanish), and ends in a seemingly unending swirl of synthesised noise. its middle section a full on stoner doom assault on the senses driven by pounding percussion, growling bass and crunching guitar riffage over which a strong, slightly gothic, vocal melody is perfectly executed (also in Spanish), the perfect end to a perfectly rewarding listening experience.

Desert Psychlist came to this album a little later than most, we have already read glowing reviews extoling the virtues of this stunning album and we have to say we agree with everything that's been written about it. "Deities" is a triumphant blending of conceptual songwritting and storytelling soundtracked to a backdrop of dark atmospheric doom. As we wrote on the bands Bandcamp page.... "Tortuga use atmosphere as if it were an instrument in its own right and they play the fuck out of it!"
Check it out ….

© 2020 Frazer Jones

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