Album Review – Bathsheba / Servus (2017)

From the depths of the black charcoal mountains rises a new Occult Doom Metal entity, bringing endless sadness, pain and anguish with their first full-length opus.

From the depths of the black charcoal mountains rises Bathsheba, an unholy gathering of four talented musicians hailing from Genk, a city located in the Belgian province of Limburg, aiming at spreading grief and agony all over the world with their first full-length opus, the excellent Servus. Portraying a biblical name and fronted by the stunning she-devil Michelle Nocon (Serpentcult, Leviathan Speaks, Death Penalty), this distinct quartet formed in 2013 brings forth an occult version of Doom Metal intensified by elements from Sludge and Black Metal, resulting in a blackened feast of atmospheric and schizophrenic sounds.

The mystical frontwoman Michelle, together with guitarist Dwight Goossens (Disinterred), bassist Raf Meukens (Death Penalty, Torturerama) and drummer Jelle Stevens (Sardonis), released a demo  tape in October 2014 and shortly after signed to Svart Records, releasing an EP titled The Sleepless Gods in May 2015, which then led the band to participate in important underground festivals such as Doom Over London, DesertFest, Incubate, Dutch Doom Days and Doomed Gatherings. However, it’s with Servus, which features a stylish artwork by Olivier Lomer-Wilbers (Dissolvtion), that the band has reached a new level of wickedness, offering the listener six complex and peculiar songs about struggle, sadness, constant threat and distortion of the mind. In other words, Bathsheba will drag you into the horror of existence under the crushing weight of reality with the doomed music found in Servus.

Somber words work as an intro to the sluggish and obscure tune Conjuration of Fire, with the slow, dirty rhythm carved by Dwight, Raf and Jelle opening the gates of hell for the she-demon Michelle to start mesmerizing us by declaiming the song’s poetic lyrics (“Art of chaos / come over me / I wander endlessly / Are you the One / the One for me / Divided in Earth and Sea”). Furthermore, the second part of the song gets beautifully heavier and more diabolical, turning it into a modern-day witchcraft hymn. Like a tenebrous tempest, Bathsheba come crushing our souls in the boisterous Ain Soph, displaying old school doomed beats by Jelle and whimsical guitars by Dwight. Michelle delivers some deeper, darker vocal lines, while a saxophone creates a gripping paradox with the song’s more extreme Black Metal-inspired sounds. And the somber aura present in both previous songs continues to penetrate our skin in Manifest, where an atmospheric background and the smooth voice by Michelle are slowly joined by the other instruments until the music reaches a fierce Doom Metal stage bursting with melancholy and heaviness. Put differently, this excellent composition will offer you 10 minutes of hopelessness emanating from its sharp riffs, flammable solos and those potent and steady beats only found in old school Doom Metal.

Wandering through a desolated field, Bathsheba fire Demon 13, an awesome Doom and Sludge Metal chant with a demonic vibe showcasing a growing excruciating pain through the rumbling roar by Raf’s bass guitar and the pounding drums by Jelle, with Michelle sounding more menacing and pleasant and the same time. Inspired by the most obscure creations by Black Sabbath, Dwight brings tons of feeling to the music in the slow-paced and melodic composition The Sleepless Gods, while Michelle becomes some sort of enchantress through her vocals; and if you love truly dark sounds, I, at the End of Everything will certainly please your ears, being like a tribal version of Doom Metal displaying Stygian guitar lines in sync with Jelle’s rhythmic beats, not to mention the song’s conjuring lyrics (“And by the virtue of the Highest One / I command Thee / To perfect the Creation / Make me myself again / Universe tremble again / You who is worthy of all praise”). After this song is over, I bet you’ll go back to the beginning of Servus again and again so addictive Michelle’s performance is throughout the entire album, proving how gripping the music by Bathsheba can be.

Servus is already on sale at several locations, such as Bathsheba’s BandCamp or Big Cartel in different formats (CD, LP, CD + shirt package and LP + shirt package), at the Svart Records’ webstore, at Record Shop X, at Discogs, on iTunes or on Amazon. This, my friends, is the sorrowful and eldritch world crafted by this dark entity called Bathsheba, an obscure land where although happiness and peace are not welcome, we’ll indubitably enjoy living in its shadows.

Best moments of the album: Conjuration of Fire and Demon 13.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Svart Records

Track listing
1. Conjuration of Fire 7:34
2. Ain Soph 5:42
3. Manifest 10:33
4. Demon 13 5:45
5. The Sleepless Gods 7:14
6. I, at the End of Everything 8:25

Band members
Michelle Nocon – vocals
Dwight Goossens – guitars
Raf Meukens – bass
Jelle Stevens – drums

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Album Review – Dead Witches / Ouija (2017)

Beware as the witches are coming to take your soul with their occult, stoned-out Doom Metal.

Rating4

hps048_deadwitches_300dpi_cmykBritish drummer Mark Greening (Electric Wizard, Ramesses, With The Dead) and Italian singer Virginia Monti (Psychedelic Witchcraft) have joined forces to establish the heaviest occult, psych superbeast to see the light in 2017, taking the shape of Occult Stoner/Doom Metal act Dead Witches and unleashing upon us mere mortals their debut album obscurely entitled Ouija, a must-have for followers of bands like Electric Wizard, Sleep and Pentagram, among others, who love the combination of dark and strong melodies, heavy guitar riffs and a truly supernatural vibe.

Ouija is comprised of six distinct songs that will mesmerize you during the album’s 33 minutes of somber passages, classic Doom Metal beats and a stunning performance by Virginia on vocals, all perfectly depicted by the bewitching artwork designed by Goatess Doomwych. In addition, Ouija also ended up being the last release in the career of guitarist Greg Elk, who sadly passed away late 2016, giving the album an extra mystical touch. In other words, while listening to Ouija, let the awesome sound of Greg’s guitar penetrate your mind and soul, taking you to the other side for a quick visit where he’s definitely having a good time with his deceased guitar heroes right now. I’m pretty sure that’s what Greg and the rest of the band want you to feel with their music.

The album’s two-and-a-half-minute long Intro informs a dark, misty storm is upon us, with the menacing bass by Carl Geary sending a clear message that there will be no sign of happiness from now on, beginning with the excellent Dead, where Greg and Mark generate the most damned atmosphere you can think of with their fetching guitar riffs and Doom Metal beats, respectively, before the classy Virginia begins firing her sexy devilish vocals, leading us all to burn into the fire as the music progresses. And as the icing on the cake, Greg delivers an outstanding solo to make the whole song even more captivating.

deadwitches_02Then it’s Greg and Carl who build the wicked atmosphere in the sensational Drawing Down The Moon, my favorite song of the album where Virginia sounds even more rapturous on vocals. Moreover, when Mark speeds his beats up we’re treated to a potent sonority full of electricity, passion and the delicious obscurity of Doom Metal. The title-track Ouija is a lot more melancholic, highly recommended for savoring a full bottle of a high-quality, traditional red wine. Greg keeps blasting pure awesomeness through his riffs and solos, while at the same time we get hypnotized by the song’s vocal lines and beats inspired by ritualistic Doom Metal.

In Mind Funeral, get ready to play with the words “self”, “mind”, “control” and “funeral” together with Virginia throughout the whole song in a gripping way, while the rest of the band delivers their low-tuned, obscure lines flawlessly. Although this amazing chant might darken your heart a bit, I’m pretty sure you won’t regret feeling that darkness growing inside you thanks to the electrifying sonority brought forth by this England-based group. And A World Of Darkness, the last tune of this darkly alluring album, showcases powerful performances by Mark and Carl in over seven minutes of raw, straightforward old school Doom Metal that smoothly flow into a Stygian ending. Needless to say, the guitar sounds by Greg feel really touching the whole song, an amazing job done by a talented guitarist that will surely be missed by his family, friends and fans.

You can join the entrancing coven by this excellent UK band through their Facebook page or YouTube channel, and you’ll soon be able to buy your copy of Ouija at the Heavy Psych Sounds Records website, at the All That Is Heavy webstore, on Amazon and other locations. So beware, my dear headbanging friend, as the witches are coming to take your soul with the occult, stoned-out music found in Ouija, an album that has all it takes to become a fan-favorite among admirers of underground Doom Metal without a shadow of a doubt.

Best moments of the album: Drawing Down The Moon and Mind Funeral.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Track listing
1. Intro 2:27
2. Dead 6:05
3. Drawing Down The Moon 5:54
4. Ouija 5:04
5. Mind Funeral 5:00
6. A World Of Darkness 7:35

Band members
Virginia Monti – vocals
Greg Elk (R.I.P.) – guitar
Carl Geary – bass
Mark Greening – drums

Album Review – Gateway / Gateway (2015)

May the world come to its tragic end to the sound of the barbaric and inhuman Doom Metal by this promising one-man army from Belgium.

Rating5

C03What does it need for a person to sound so savage, heavy and depressive, to the point you can’t tell if it’s just a regular human being or a grotesque creature of darkness that’s responsible for that eerie and sluggish resonance? If you really want to know the answer for that difficult question, I suggest you take a listen at the self-titled debut album by Belgian Medieval Doom/Death Metal one-man army Gateway. But be extremely careful, because once you start listening to this ode to horror influenced by the likes of Autopsy, Mortician and Evoken there’s no turning back, it’s a one-way journey down to the pits of hell.

Hailing from Bruges, Belgium, the talented musician Robin Van Oyen, who’s by the way responsible for vocals and all other instruments in Gateway, brings forth a concept album inspired by his hometown, offering the listener some depraved tales of ritualistic horror, torture and pain, blending the most obscure and mischievous elements from Death, Doom, Black and Sludge Metal you can think of. The final result, like what we witnessed last year in his three-track demo Aeternae, goes beyond the boundaries of inhumanity and suffering, grinding your body and mind like a genuinely repulsive torture device.

While listening to the wicked intro Prolegomenon, it’s more than obvious that what’s about to come is going to be disturbing, which is precisely what happens in Vox Occultus, a merciless parade of Occult Doom Metal supported by its reverberating riffs. In addition, as per the “unofficial” guide of old school Doom Metal, its drums are there with the unique mission to make the whole thing even more diabolical, and I’m not really sure what to say about the subhuman growls by Robin Van Oyen except for the fact that they won’t let you sleep well at night. Are you still breathing? Because in the following track, Kha’laam, Gateway forged a mystical Doom Metal aria by masterfully blending elements from Tryptikon, Black Sabbath and Celtic Frost, with its primeval rhythm contributing to its mordacity and elevating it to a whole new level of darkness. It doesn’t matter how intricate this tune is, it remains utterly loyal to the foundations of Doom Metal.

Gateway - white logoDon’t expect to see any bright light in the music by Gateway, as the ode to despair continues with yet another grim composition entitled Impaled, where Robin keeps howling like an ancient demon amidst a lugubrious atmosphere that will compel your heart to grow darker and darker; followed by Corrumpert Interludium, a song that will break your fuckin’ neck in a solid display of extreme music, with its riffs giving you goosebumps so demonic they are. I love the name of the next track, Vile Temptress, it transpires darkness and flawlessly connects with its spellbinding rhythm, as if the witch herself wanted to hypnotize us and take us all to her evil kingdom (“I am a witch… AND I CURSE YOU!”). This tune proves that extreme music doesn’t need to be fast at all times to be frightful, don’t you agree?

In the excellent Hollow, it looks like Robin’s plan is to drag us all to hell to the sound of his torture-inspired musicality, this time slightly faster and with an even more enraged growling, growing in desperation until the song’s fiendish ending; before The Shores of Daruk closes the album with almost ten minutes of hatred and occultism, guiding us into the unknown. I don’t know where those shores are exactly but it’s definitely not a happy place, getting even more supernatural halfway through it and evolving to a sorrowful ending. Thus, if you survive this tormented feast of Extreme Metal, you’re indeed a true doom metaller, but if you still want more you can enjoy the brutal and extremely well-engendered Portaclus, an amazing gift to fans who get the physical copy of the album, and of course a visceral exhibit of what Gateway is capable of.

Are you willing to keep having your body and soul tormented by this promising Belgian one-man band? Simply check out Gateway’s Facebook and YouTube, and in order to buy your copy of Gateway go to the band’s official BandCamp page, to the Hellthrasher Productions BandCamp or to their official webstore. When the gates of hell are open and gruesome bands such as Gateway arise from darkness, you know that if the world is actually coming to an atrocious end, may that be to the sound of the rawest and most demonic Doom Metal imaginable.

Best moments of the album: Kha’laam and Vile Temptress.

Worst moments of the album: Corrumpert Interludium.

Released in 2015 Hellthrasher Productions

Track listing
1. Prolegomenon (Intro) 1:08
2. Vox Occultus 6:16
3. Kha’laam 3:43
4. Impaled 6:58
5. Corrumpert Interludium 2:38
6. Vile Temptress 5:07
7. Hollow 5:00
8. The Shores Of Daruk 9:27

CD bonus track
9.Portaclus 3:32

Band members
Robin Van Oyen – vocals, all instruments