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Boneworm : Boneworm

Boneworm have wasted little time in setting out their stand as purveyors of the slowest and heaviest of riffs

A recent arrival on the Doom scene, Boneworm have wasted little time in setting out their stand as purveyors of the slowest and heaviest of riffs, as witnessed by this download-only demo release. That may not be immediately apparent from the cover art - however liberally wizards have been scattered throughout the history of rock - but one suspects, particularly considering the included lyric sheet, that it was chosen to reflect a love of older, stylised block-colour comics rather than the musical content.

In fact, what you get for your money is about as far from twee wizarding as it could be: the trio from Portland, Oregon are in the business of delivering enormous slabs of firmly-rooted-in-the-60s Psychedelic, bluesy Doom with a minimum of fuss or frippery. There's probably a clue about that in the way each of the three tracks runs to around quarter of an hour in length...this is not music in a hurry to get where it's going. More to the point, it doesn't care about the destination so much as the journey.

Broadly speaking, it's heading down roughly the same path as the Melvins most Sabbathesque forays, carried on a treacle-slow wave of chunky, percussive distortion that leaves not only space for the instruments to breathe, but leaves space between the spaces. At times it seems that pretty much every drumbeat and every cruelly-battered note is left to die in the void before another one is sent to follow it into eternity.

Slow, of course, is neither new, nor a unique selling point. Neither is heaviness, something else Boneworm have in abundance: a huge, bassy sound, underpinned by the sort of hefty riffs and fills that Geezer Butler would be proud of. The drums pound along both beneath and above that: the snares and cymbals are often the brightest sound in the whole mix. The guitar, not unexpectedly, arcs between downtuned distortion and effect-heavy downtuned distortion, occasionally throwing in a brief solo exploration. Around all that, the vocals are in the vein of passionate, rather than strictly tuneful, bellowing so beloved of Heavy Metal acts since the start of the 70s.

Still nothing new, there, though: in fact, the charm of this particular album is that it doesn't really do anything terribly innovative - what it does is manage to sound authentically older-than-old-school in the way the Psychedelic influences are synthesised into a low-fidelity package. There's just something about it which captures the Blue Cheer feel of aggressively rough-and-ready loudness, the progressive experimentation of High Tide and the thickly distorted layering of Andromeda - bands which may sometimes get namechecked as "proto-doom", but in reality pre-dated even that artificially-constructed genre. Standout track as far as this is concerned is the grooviest and fastest of the three: 'The Call' - the other two are both worthy, but more straightforward and a little constrained by their deliberate pace.

In summary: I like this, while recognising that it isn't perhaps going to win over many converts to the Stoner/Sludge end of the Trad-based Doom spectrum. For something quite so throwback in many respects, it sounds raw, fresh and honest and it's got the right sort of expansive feel to let the listener journey with the music. And for those who aren't sure - it won't take you long to find out: you'll know within two bars (about five and a half minutes...) of the first track whether it's for you.

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Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
1. Sickness
2. Crater
3. The Call

Duration : Approx. 42 minutes

Visit the Boneworm bandpage.

Reviewed on 2013-04-16 by Mike Liassides
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