Bathsheba - ServusIt always disheartens me when bands with so much potential turn to ash shortly after burning brightly. For instance, remember the buzz surrounding Belgium’s Serpentcult? Their 2008 debut Weight of Light caught many a doom aficionado’s ear with their sludged-out grooves, crushing basslines, and the otherworldly vocals of Michelle Nocon. Fast-forward three years, and the Nocon-less follow-up, Raised By Wolves, while still heavy and uncompromising, lost its spark with her departure. Now here we are in 2017, and Nocon’s plying her voice in a new band. Despite nearly a decade since Weight of LightBathsheba‘s debut, Servus, continues the promise Nocon’s last band once possessed.

Lurching and heaving like a gravedigger at the end of his shift, “Conjuration of Fire” marches forth with gargantuan riffs and the thickest of distorted basslines. The magic begins once Nocon begins singing, her voice effortlessly combining hopefulness and terror like few in her field. This Messa-esque funeral crawl is kept for half of the song until the band ramps up the speed to a pummeling march. Jelle Stevens slays his drum kit, building tension with every tom hit while Nocon squeaks, squeals, grunts and growls with manic intent. For seven minutes, “Conjuration of Fire” pulls you into an uneasy trance and keeps you there throughout. One of the best introductory songs I’ve heard in a long while, and an easy Song o’ the Year candidate.

And Bathsheba continue this dreary, occult path, though thankfully they toss some curveballs here-and-there. “Manifest,” while being Servus’ longest song at almost 11 minutes, definitely doesn’t feel so long, with a beautiful solo by guitarist Dwight Goosens taking up half of it. “The Sleepless Gods” reaches early Cathedral in its heft and songcraft, with plenty of Nocon’s haunting croons. “Ain Soph” opens with blistering black metal drumming, Sabbath-esque riffing, and a distorted sax solo that’s oddly fitting. It’s always refreshing when bands make attempts to extend boundaries while retaining the mood and weight of doom metal, and Bathsheba largely succeeds.

Bathsheba 2017
So where does it trip up on itself? “Ain Soph” has some questionable vocal melodies by Nocon where it sounds like she’s out of tune. Not a major complaint, but it does irk a bit. Closer “I, At the End of Everything” feels a lot longer than it should due to its plodding pace, lack of variety, and its placement in the album order. But for a debut, Servus sounds incredible. Raf Meukens’ monstrous bass can be heard and felt, the drums thunder without being overpowering, and Goosens’ guitar is thick and chewy. And despite being the centerpiece, Nocon’s vocals blend perfectly with the band instead of drowning them out. In terms of production, this is one of the better sounding doom albums I’ve heard in a while.1

It took a while, but 2017 finally produced something that’s not black metal a worthy doom metal debut. Sure, it isn’t perfect, but Servus works with its strengths beautifully. If they can tighten up some of the songwriting, Bathsheba will find themselves at the forefront of doom metal in no time at all. I’m just hoping they stay around a bit.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Svart Records
Websites: bathshebakills.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/bathshebakills
Release Dates: EU: 2017.02.24 | NA: 03.03.2017

Show 1 footnote

  1. Barring Vainaja, of course.

Tagged with →  
Share →
  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Montfaucon’s debut album was produced by Dan Swano and that was pretty dandy called “Renaissance”. If you didn’t get a promo for that, RIP. Probably the weirdest doom release of the year too.

    • montfaucon • bandcamp • com
      Sounds quite idiosyncratic. Interesting stuff. Thanks.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Montfaucon? That surely has to mean “motherfucker” in some language.

      • [not a Dr]

        It’s French for “Mount Falcon”. But it’s pronounced the same way as “Mon Faux Con”: “My False Twat”.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          That’s dissapointing. I really hoped it meant “motherfucker”.

          • [not a Dr]

            Maybe in Bulgarian?

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Maybe in Vulgarian.

          • [not a Dr]

            You know that’s exactly what I meant!
            Are you mocking my Spanish accent? I can’t pronounce the V, even on my keyboard…

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            I would never mock anyone’s Spanish accent, Spanish is my first language!

          • [not a Dr]

            Beati hispani qvibvm vivere bibere est.
            (Lucky the Spaniards, for whom living is drinking)

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Well, My first language is Spanish but I’m no Spaniard.

          • [not a Dr]

            I’m quarter Spaniard on my abuelita’s side.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            I’m half Portuguese on my pai’s side.

  • Gaëtan Baratin

    The intro of the embedded track really sounds like Yekteniya 5 from Batushka’s Litourgiya.

    • Frost15

      haha! kind of yeah!

  • Ferrous Beuller

    Love this – nice review! The video looks like one of the films by Bunuel and Dali.

    Eye-gasmic.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    I like the lurching, sludgy feel in the embedded track. Michelle has a nice range, but it almost feels like she’s trying too hard here, as opposed to, say, someone like Messa’s Sara, whose singing seems so natural and inevitable. Looking forward to hearing the full album

  • AgonMcDuck

    I remember hearing this a while back. Vocals seriously put me off, but maybe I might give this another chance.

  • Huck N’ Roll

    Love your gravedigger line, Grymm!

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Hopefully, this means they’ll be releasing “Fallout 5” soon!

    Stupid joke, aside, though, the sample song is really good. The female lead vocalist has a sharp edge to her voice that picks up the slow doom melody nicely. Song doesn’t exactly go anywhere, but that’s pretty much par for the chorus with the genre.

    As mentioned in the review, not many doom metal albums coming out, but a ton of death metal. I wonder if that means more people are feeling happier, or just coming to terms with their own mortality.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      I might be off with the statistics but I think there is always more Death Metal coming out than Doom.

  • OzanCan

    With the embedded track playing at the background, I wanna run a Werewolf: Apocalypse game set in dark umbra against a bunch of spiteful banes and shit…
    Holy FUCK!!!!

  • Eli Valcik

    Pallbearer + bog oak, I like it

    • Oscar Albretsen

      Well, they have insruments, so I suppose I can understand the Pallbearer comparison. Theyy have instruments, too.

      • Eli Valcik

        Pallbearer(ish) riffs and bog oak(ish) vocals. It’s not a dead on comparison, but it’s what this band reminds me of

        • Oscar Albretsen

          Well, the super-slow tempo is similar to Pallbearer, but I felt the music was just alot more disjointed, but I did only listen once, and now that I think about it, I actually thought Pallbearer sounded pretty disjointed the first few times I heard ’em.

          • Eli Valcik

            But everything aside, I’m just happy I’m getting more quality doom. It’s one of my favorite genres, but its had somewhat of a slump after Khemmis dropped hunted.

    • Dr. Wvrm

      Fwiw, I too agree with the Pallbearer sentiment. It’s not an exact connection, but the tone and unfurling nature of the riffs remind me of a darker Pallbearer.

  • herrschobel

    very good indeed. Especially the vocals really do it for me. Very often female vocals miss the ferocious and raw quality, this Lady has. Nice Video too.

  • Bas

    I agree with you Grymm. When I compare it to their previous 10″ its an improvement. That one was nice but a bit boring with two songs which were too similar. I think its because on this album the singer uses her voice in a more varied way.
    If there is going to be a new Death Penalty album she should also sing this way !
    Anyway this album is very good!
    I saw them perform most of these songs live, which was also intense!

  • Adrian Rigter

    I like this a lot. best thing this year since Great Old Ones for me.