If you have ever imagined being lost in a blizzard where every sound and danger, open and hidden, seduces and smothers the senses to their limits then try stepping into Spectres the debut album from UK sonic sculptors Bast. Every intensive note and emotion within the blackened doom bred tempest suffocates with merciless passion and intimidation yet infuses the imagination with a beauty and compelling toxicity which is just as mouth-wateringly impressive. The five track release is an epic confrontation which is not an easy companion to embrace and at times endure, as that envisaged storm, but certainly one of the most rewarding as it infests body and psyche.
Formed in 2008, it was the coming together of vocalist/guitarist Craig Bryant, drummer Jon Lee, and bassist Gavin Thomas three years later where arguably things really began to stir up a greater attentive spotlight for Londoners Bast. Since starting initially as a duo, the band certainly made an imprint on the capitals metal scene, sharing stages with the likes of Ufomammut, A Storm of Light, and Ramesses. Across the years the trio has expanded their presence supporting and playing with other bands such as Nachtmystium, Minsk, Winterfylleth, earthtone9, Mother Corona, XII Boar and hordes more, persistently leaving a rich mark and breeding an eager anticipation for their first album.
Recorded at Skyhammer Studio with Chris Fielding, Spectres is the first offering from new label Black Bow Records, run by Conan frontman Jon Davis, its limited to 300 vinyl release a joint unleashing with a CD/digital assault from Burning World Records. The album is a heavily consumptive provocation which swallows and chews the senses with a creative rabidity which simply intimidates under the massive weight of doom spawned atmospheres and malevolence. Just as ravenously though, the release leads the listener through inventive weaves which dazzle in elegance and seduce in majestic radiance though never truly released from the hands of rancorous oppressiveness.
In The Beginning initially offers a respectful sonic coaxing to bring the album into view, its chilled ambience wrapping the ears before an exhaustive fire of riffs and rhythms consume the senses as the rasping caustic vocal squalls of Bryant scorches the air. As its stalks and piles on the dark drama with every second, the track winds around the imagination with a near insidious voice and corrosive intensity, stimulating thoughts with an enveloping and emotive suffering. It is a powerful opening matched by the next up Denizens, its slow flight into darker and deeper caverns of intensive emotional corruption as mesmeric as it is ruinous. Like the first, the black and doom metal seeded blend brews an erosive breath over a melodically teased sonic adventure, both soaked in a mutually cathartic and damaging tsunami of intensity.
Impressive as the songs are, the album does not truly ignite into something uniquely distinctive and special until the title track erupts in a ferocious brawl of crippling rhythms and unrestrained riffing. The track hits with the carnivorous heavy assault of a Black Tusk, with heavily shadowed but tempting grooves to match, before diving head long into a blackened swamp of sonic rabidity and doom lit venom. It is an irresistible onslaught taken to greater potency by a deliciously barbed rhythmic temptation alongside a bass and guitar snarl which has you contemplating scurrying into the deepest burrows of safety. Spectres preys upon and swaggers with the imagination and passions, an unpredictable constantly evolving waltz of inventive toxins and destructive virulence with pestilential charms and animosity which echoes the overall presence of its namesake, the album.
The exceptional confrontation is matched by the instrumental Psychonauts, the piece a developing imaginative scourge for the passions which from a seemingly primordial sonic soup spawns an irresistible and addictive union of contagion clad drumming and savage bass temptation. It proceeds to provide an exploratory and weighty flight through menacing expressive textures and atmospherically driven visually provoking scenery. It is another immense stimulus for mind and emotions to eagerly delve into, a demanding and controlling doorway to the band’s and our imaginations. Its twelve minute violation makes way for the equally enthralling and lengthy Outside The Circles Of Time, the closing song crafting a landscape of melodic temptation and magnetic beauty within a warm embracing ambience. The ever raw tones of Bryant, even in their more reined in delivery, add to the epidemic enticement, helping pave the way for the fiercer sonic wash of guitar and passion to lap over the senses beside another stretch of impossible to resist rhythmic bait, the song intensifying its pressure and contagion with every passing minute.
It is a magnificent finale to an album which firmly puts Bast on the doom metal map. Spectres takes a little time to truly explode in the psyche, though it is certainly grips from its first breath, but emerges as an album destined to be one of the most impressive doom and 2014 debuts.
Bast upcoming tour dates with Conan 2014
March 14th Nottingham, Soan Studios
March 15th Bournemouth, The Anvil
March 16th Birmingham, The Asylum 2
March 17th Glasgow, Audio
March 18th Aberdeen, Live at Downstairs
March 19th Manchester, Kraak Gallery
March 20th Cardiff, The Full Moon
March 21st Brighton, The a Prince Albert
March 22nd London at Electrowerkz
March 23rd Mousetrap, Basingstoke
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