We were hearing very good things about Canadian doomers Show of Bedlam because of a split with Jucifer in 2009, the band’s only release up to this point, and were told that we should take an interest in the band’s debut album Roont, released this week. This we did and discovered a release best described as a creative cauldron of sonic and emotional intensity filtered through howling atmospheric turbulence, i.e. one of the most exhilarating albums so far this year. It is as fiercely seductive as it is corrosively demonic, as virulently contagious as it is toxically inhospitable, and quite simply irresistible.
Hailing from Montreal, Show Of Bedlam’s sound is certainly doom metal bred but it is equally as sludgy as it is hardcore, as punk as it is noise and occult spiced rock ‘n’ roll. Influences are said to include the likes of Neurosis, Electric Wizard, The Swans, UFOMammut, Babes in Toyland, and Sonic Youth. The reality is for all references and inspirations cited and probably deserved, Show of Bedlam brew up a hellacious and thoroughly gripping mix ultimately distinct to them.
The album’s title track sets things off, a cold and harsh ambience looming in from afar, quickly joined by portentous rhythms and a maelstrom of sonic and noise bred provocation. It is an embrace of sound and incitement to match the band name, no coherent unity obvious yet a concussive invitation with control and instinctive enmity. From its thickening smog, acidic grooves and heavy senses roaming rhythms emerge, their imposing presence matched by a dark bass tone and the instantly engaging tones of vocalist Paulina Richards. Attitude and intensity drips from every syllable she expels, her delivery managing to be part croon, roar, and threat simultaneously. Hers is a soaring fury matched by the sounds around her, guitars spinning a caustic yet beguiling web whilst rhythms pummel and craft anthemic bait for every one of the song’s hellacious seconds. The track is fascinating, uncompromising textures and unpredictable imagination entangling every twist and turn in the passage and creation of the song, all those flavours earlier mentioned and more aligning to craft nine minutes of feral, bordering on satanic beauty.
An interlude comes next in the shape of 19, though contrary to most similar moments there is no escape into calm and safe waters here, the track an unrelenting harsh sonic wind with fleeting glimpses of another evocatively melodic realm. You can almost touch those elements as they are smothered in sound but always to no avail as the track insidiously escorts ears and emotions towards the following Vermin. Show of Bedlam have already shown themselves adept at using samples, opening up this track with another before binding the passions in addictive hooks, dramatic grooves, and a punk bred infectiousness. It all entices from within a tempest of swarthy stoner-esque sonic psychosis with occult rock like flavouring. The track is outstanding, an emotional and intimidating turmoil to get lustful over casting a maelstrom of styles and ingenuity which just ignites the imagination. The song never lingers on one aspect for long but is equally unafraid to return to those choice essences and involve and twist them into fresher incitements again. At one point the song had a feel of L7 meets Blood Ceremony to it, then in the next it was something else again, and constantly spellbinding.
Next up, Dress for sale slips into darker and colder climes, its darkly shimmering countenance mesmeric as basslines and riffs crawl with menace through ears. It is a track soon ablaze though, acidic guitar enterprise and fierce vocal expression roaring with searing flames of energy whilst carrying just a hint of venomous intent. Once more the band has ears and imagination enthralled; abrasing and seducing both with ingenuity and simple but ingeniously woven creative aggression.
There is poetry to the sound and lyrical premise of all songs upon Roont, an almost corrosively romantic essence which especially floods the epic exploit of Itamu. The track is pure inventive drama, a journey through unforgiving yet intoxicating climates of sonic and emotional exploration. As everywhere, the track’s narrative is as engrossing as the music sound-tracking its story and predominantly because of the diverse and ever shifting delivery of Richards. She can brawl with ears as perfectly as she can seduce them, spark with aggression as potently as she can lure unbridled attention with a croon. With the rest of the band conjuring sounds of the same creative and effective dark majesty, the result is a track and release which borders on perfect.
With a bonus demo version of Vermin adding an extra treat, Roont is something all doom, sludge, heavy metal, and even hardcore fans should not be without. Very special is a description not easily offered in music these days but we tell you now, Show of Bedlam is that with the potential of being much more.
Roont is available now on CD via PRC Music @ http://www.prcmusic.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=1317 and digitally @ https://showofbedlam.bandcamp.com/
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