Claimed as an album which was never supposed to exist, Behold Mountain. Hail Sea. Venerate Sky. Bow Before definitely belies the spontaneous and undetermined emergence that the statement suggests. The three track release from UK doomsters Spider Kitten, in their words “was always meant as a filler for themselves and the ‘fans’ before the next full album.” What they have created is a masterful captivation of sound and invention which pushes their horizons and suggests that ultimately its birth was not as laid back as assumed, though equally it holds a freedom and flow to it which is organically spontaneous. It is a gripping and unpredictable slab of stoner flamed doom exploration, something which the Welsh band excels in, which for newcomers and fans alike reinforces the stature of Spider Kitten and more.
Formed in 2001, the Newport band is centred round vocalist/guitarist Chi Lameo and bassist/vocalist Alex White. Emerging as a duo, the band as years and releases came and went, has been a full septet and as now, an imagination sparking quartet featuring drummer/vocalist Chris West and guitarist Rob Davies alongside the founding pair. The band has numerous impressive releases under their belt but strangely and almost inexplicably Spider Kitten is still a treat within the shadows when it comes to breaching the fullest spotlight within British rock. Maybe the new encounter will be the catalyst to broader attention and recognition, time will tell but it is certainly a striking and exciting incitement from the band which is sure to whip up a storm of acclaim somewhere.
Lyrically and musically inspired by Norse Sagas and Eddas, the release also features guests in the shape of guitarist Stuart ‘O.F.D.’ O’Hara (Acrimony, Iron Monkey, Blackeyeriot, Sigiriya) on opener Lindisfarena, and Charlotte Nichols (ex – Crippled Black Phoenix) who provides the heavy provocation of cello gracing final song Gore Swan. The first track launches on a gripping parade of predatory rhythms swiftly smothered in sonic causticity as guitars spray their endeavour. It is a tribal call to arms which instantly enslaves ears and imagination before suddenly relaxing into a just as tempestuous terrain of thick stoner enterprise and doom loaded predation. Vocals add their raw persuasion and colour next as the track spreads with almost toxic infectiousness across the senses, Lindisfarena insatiably swallowing thoughts and emotions with its riveting expanse of bass intimidation and sonic tenacity. Slow and lumbering but nimble on its feet in certain aggressive and inventive moments, the track is seven minutes plus of enthralling, bordering on visceral exploration.
The following Bearded Axe consumes ears with lowly slung grooves and stalking rhythms as vocal harmonies converge on the song’s corrosive ambience. It is a mesmeric assault, the track a ponderous beauty of bestial intensity and weight aligned to perversely radiant colour and temptation. For three minutes or so the track prowls and intimidates to fine effect but it is once sonic scythes split the body of the track, to be matched by carnivorous beats, that it grips an even greater plateau. Thick Kyuss like essences seduce in its maelstrom before a gentle caress of folkish charm leads the track towards the closing epic of Gore Swan. It is a transfixing bruising enticement which is surpassed by the journey, musically and lyrically, coming in the three parts of the last track. With ‘chapters’ Of the Land, Of the Sea, and Of the Sky uniting, the song is an evolving landscape of melodic scenery, ferocious confrontation, and imposing intensity. It never rests too long in one particular climate, each movement no matter its length a restless and fascinating tapestry of textures and sonically fuelled imagination. There is something of KingBathmat to the encounter, especially in its weave of evocative sounds and almost devilish ingenuity. The cello of Nichols is gorgeous as it crafts melancholic and bewitching shadowed tones as backdrop to hostile and calmer twists in the tale.
The track alone makes the album a must investigation, and locked in union with its companions helps provide another sensational proposition from Spider Kitten, a band which surely will eventually stand to the fore of doom bred, progressive caressed, sludge rich adventure.
Behold Mountain. Hail Sea. Venerate Sky. Bow Before is available now via Undergroove Records
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