Sweden is held in such high esteem within the stoner, doom and psych community that those of us who are constantly searching for new music, on sites like Bandcamp and Spotify, feel almost compelled to check out anything that bears the country's name. Of course not everything that comes out of Sweden is going to blow your socks off but the Swedes do seem to have a knack of hitting the back of the net more often than they hit the post. That net was more than rippled recently with the release of Swedish outfit Terra Black's "All Descend", a scintillating collection of songs that blend crushing stoner/doom heaviness with the sort of majestic ethereal elegance usually only found in certain forms of progressive folk metal and pagan themed occult rock.
Desert Psychlist has to confess that along with our love of all things doomic and heavy we also have a soft spot for the folk tinted progressive metal of British bands like Karnataka, Mostly Autumn and Panic Room, three bands often wrongly tagged as "symphonic metal". So why are we revealing this guilty pleasure now you may ask, well the reason is that Sweden's Terra Black combine their crunching doomic riffs and thunderous rhythms with essences that can be found in all three of those bands, Denice (bass); Sophie (drums); Isak (guitars/vocals) and Ezgi (vocals/guitar) may love to lay down thick reverberating guitar refrains and pummelling drum patterns but they are also not averse to taking things in a more otherworldly, ethereal direction either. Ezgi's vocals might not have quite the full range of elegance of a Heather Findlay (ex-Mostly Autumn) or a Anne Marie Helder (ex-Karnataka/Panic Room) but her vocals reside in somewhat similar territory, fragile and fey in the lower register and soaring and magnificent at the top end of her range. As we stated earlier heaviness is a a major factor in Terra Black's sound, and on songs like "Asteroid", "Black Flames of Funeral Fire", "Spawn of Lyssa" and "Slumber Grove" that heaviness is pushed to the fore with Ezgi's, crunching chord work locking in tight with Denice's growling bass and Sophie's powerhouse drumming to create a variety of doomic groove that Isak then decorates with searing and tasteful lead guitar as well as occasional lead and backing vocals. The real beauty of this album however are those moments when the heaviness momentarily subsides and the band drift into a more laid back and occult(ish) dynamic as on the sublime "Ashes and Dust" and the atmospheric "Divinest Sin", songs that perfectly highlight not only Terra Black's heaviness but also their lightness of touch.
Songs full to brimming over with lyrical content referencing witchcraft and astronomy might lead some to lumping Terra Black in with occult rockers like Wucan, Blood Ceremony and bands of that ilk but Terra Black's music is far heavier, far more dense and far more intense than anything those bands have released in the past, or might do in the future, What Terra Black bring to the alter with "All Descend" is an edgy doom, a heavy dank doom infused with subtle textures of folk, prog and post metal that can just as easily brush your cheek with a manicured finger as it can smash your nose to a pulp with a heavily ringed fist.
Check 'em out ....
© 2023 Frazer Jones