When grooves alone have a corrosive weight and predacious hunger which leaves the senses exhausted and under-siege, you know you are in the intensive hands of something and someone very notable. Scottish doomsters Of Spire & Throne ravage and suffocate ears through to emotions with their new EP Toll of the Wound to be that something major. Their release is a three track caustic swamp of sludge and doom metal which venomously envelopes and smothers every pore and thought from start to finish. It is a slow brooding maelstrom of thick merciless textures aligned to a lumbering brutality within a viciously insidious atmosphere; it is not so much a funereal like procession of intent more an emotionally destructive apocalyptic celebration.
Hailing from Edinburgh, the trio of guitarist/vocalist Ali Lauder, bassist Matt Davies, and drummer Graham Stewart follow-up the well-received Vagary EP of 2012 with arguably their most pungently intense, asphyxiating proposition yet. From their first live showing in 2009, the band has made their mark and increasingly impressed through their releases, starting with a self-titled two track demo in 2010. The following year saw the release of their first EP The Trial of Failure before the acclaimed Vagary eight or so months later. That bred strong anticipation for its successor, a pressure Toll of the Wound more than lives up to.
Released in conjunction with New York label Broken Limbs Recordings and mastered by James Plotkin, the new EP opens up its presence with Legacy and its opening restraint of guitar. Riffs and lingering notes slowly unfurl their instantly persuasive narrative to engage with and entice the senses first before a portentous march of rhythms from Stewart begins to cast an intimidation on the ever darkening premise of the encounter. It is a welcoming start in many ways, a coaxing which almost flirts with the ear as heavier clouds and emotions begin to gather in force, their subsequent expulsion fuelled by carnivorous riffs and an ugly grizzled but thoroughly compelling vocal delivery from Lauder. The persistence of the song intensifies in relation to its weight, pressuring and seducing whilst the predatory nature and intent of the band uncages darker ravenous textures in a still slow and deliberate gait. Like mesmeric smog, the song permeates every thought and emotion; it’s rising monolithic body and attitude spawning a riveting ten minute slab of toxicity which worms right under the skin and deep into the psyche.
The following Tower Of Glass also takes it time to submerge the senses, its prowling intent coming through a lone rhythmic beckon within a distant but scarring ambience. The numbing resonance and surface of the first track is accentuated on the second, even with it’s certainly initially, less forceful touch. As raw as a primal tempest in its punishing crawl, the instrumental has none of the infestation qualities of its predecessor but all of the spite and ruinous appetite and more in its scarring mordant presence. Staying with senses and thoughts long after its departure, the cavernous body and exploratory desires of the excellent track makes for a unique and refreshing, if murderous exploit.
The release closes with almost thirteen minutes of sonic carnality in the poisonously addictive form of Cascading Shard. Once more a slow rhythmic entrance delays the inevitable consumption of controlled turbulent rapaciousness and pernicious desires. Its concentrated sluggish creeping through the ears is escorted by equally languid and malevolently honed vocal growls, guttural in every aspect and just as appealing as the annihilatory sounds dragging their addictive carcasses around them. As the release as a whole, the song allows no light to break its wall of depressive grandeur and no movement of emotions away from the acrimonious smothering.
It impressively concludes a quite hypnotic and rewarding tsunami of stringent enterprise and invasive invention. Certainly Toll of the Wound is not an easy listen or a safe encounter for disturbed minds but it is a deeply rewarding and adventurous invasion which shows Of Spire & Throne to be one of the most inventive and appetising prospects within extreme doom metal around at the moment.
Toll of the Wound is available at http://ofspireandthrone.bandcamp.com/ digitally and via Broken Limbs Recordings on limited edition vinyl (100 red, 200 black), CD (500), and cassette (100).
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