Oxford, is one of the UK's seats of learning a city known primarily for its universities but a lesser known fact is that Oxford is also a city with a reputation for churning out some of the best underground bands the UK has to offer. Not quite on a level with Portland, Oregon, that USA hub of all things doomic, Oxford has nonetheless provided us with a steady stream of top notch bands and artists for our listening pleasure over the last few years one of which is the subject of this very review.
, are Andrew Haines-Villalta
(bass); Tom Pilsworth
(guitar/vocals); John Slaymaker
(guitar) and Rich Walker
(drums), a collective that came together when Pilsworth
about doing something together after Slaymaker's
previous band Caravan of Whores
had dissolved. Pilsworth
then recruited Haines-Villalta
and Ed Glenn
to the band and with this line up the band recorded their debut "Ruins On The Shore
place on the drum stool was then taken by Rich Walker
for the bands follow up "Hymns For A Dying Realm
" an album that garnered plaudits from many of the scenes makers and shakers and saw Desert Psychlist
ranking "Hymns For A Dying Realm
" at #16 in our "Best Of 2018
" end of year list. The band return this year with "We Are Doomed
" (APF Records
) and if you thought their last release was something special then get ready for something EXTRA
Where Indica Blues previous outings traded heavily in doom "We Are Doomed" tends to lean towards a more trippy desert dynamic, still heavy, still doomic but just a little more sandblasted and lysergic. Opening track "Inhale" perfectly exemplifies this more desert based approach its a song that is big bold and riff based but there is a lot more going on here than just heavy refrains and pounding rhythms. Pilsworth's voice strong, clean clear and melodic roars above the musical maelstrom beneath him, a maelstrom that includes screaming guitar solos soaring over a groove that owes more to Kyuss than it does to any of doom's usual big hitters. Title track "We Are Doomed" opens its account with sampled narrative in the shape of a news bulletin, reporting on nuclear explosions in the Middle East , and a government warning to the populace of the possibility of impending Armageddon followed by an ominous siren effect. When the band finally make their entrance it is on a groove driven by thunderous drumming and growling bass over which a crunching low slung guitar refrain holds sway and around which a strangely synthetic, but extremely effective, sounding guitar solo screams and wails, the songs lyrics meanwhile telling of a world in turmoil. "Demagogue" finds the band jamming a mid-tempo stoner doomic groove, interspersed with ear grabbing hooks and motifs, the songs lyrics telling us we are living in a "kingdom of liars", the songs subtle underlying eastern theme adding atmosphere and gravitas to the proceedings. "Soul Embers" follows and here the band throw everything into the cauldron, low slow doomic refrains, blues drenched guitar solos, tribalistic drumming and grunge-like quiet/loud/quiet dynamics, it is quite a departure from the bands usual more straightforward doomic blues but one that they manage to pull off successfully. "The End Is Calling" is next, a song built around a recurring circular riff and decorated in blues drenched lead guitar which is then followed by "Cosmic Nihilism" a dreamy lysergic laced instrumental opus with "Planet Caravan " ambitions that gradually morphs into a lumbering stoner doom behemoth. "Scarred For Life" brings proceedings to a close with a song that mixes its genres two parts doom and one part desert rock and creates a groove that is all parts mind blowing.
With its nihilistic themes of death and destruction it would be fair to say that "We Are Doomed
" is not what you could call an upbeat album, it is though an album that reflects the times we are living in (the albums nuclear holocaust themes could easily be replaced by those of a global pandemic). it is a collection of songs that perfectly captures the confusion, anxiety and anger that comes with catastrophe regardless of whether that catastrophe is natural or of man's making.
Check it out ....