Pombagira // Maleficia Lamiah
Label: Black Axis Records
Release Dates: EU: 2013.03.18 | NA: Unknown
Images of powerful and positive female sexuality are quite frankly underrepresented in aggressive music, which is why the definition of British occult doom metal band Pombagira is so exciting. The Pomba Gira are entities, associated with several Brazillian religions, who are the embodiments of female desirability, sexuality and strength. Consorts of the corresponding male entity Exu, they represent both power and insatiability.
It turns out that strong images of femininity combined with deep exploration of afro-brazilian and afro-caribbean religious mythology is fertile ground indeed. The London, UK-based duo of drummer Carolyn Hamilton-Giles and guitarist Peter Hamilton Giles draw upon elements of psychedelia, stoner, and exploratory atmospheric post-metal to craft a pair of vast and trippy soundscapes. Maleficia Lamiah is their fifth full-length album and is composed entirely of two songs: the titular track, and the swirling expanse of “Grave Cardinal.” Both cast the listener down into deep, reverberating pits of sound and record the laborious process of crawling out again, complete with vivid hallucinations.
The easiest points of comparison to their sound are stoner giants Sleep, groaning doom titans Electric Wizard and drone sorcerers Sunn O))). But what Pomagira do is also distinct from these major influences, employing many subtle layers of sound that gradually build of to a crushing pressure and a massive low end. Rather than brute force, they prefer crushing the listener to death by inches, adding layers of gauze and silk to the granite. A soulful bird call is as much a part of the weight of the album as a gut-churning and charred riff, echoing with distortion.
Both the words Maleficia and Lamia have been translated as terms for witches, which is appropriate considering how much aural sorcery takes place on this record. Despite being composed of two tracks that both clock in around the twenty-minute mark, Maleficia Lamiah never strays into being boring. It always retains a sense of unpredictability, and many of the more nimble passages, set against a huge drone backdrop, have a distinctly improvisational quality to them.
This is definitely a record that rewards careful listening, as the intricate layers of sound reveal themselves subtly over time. While the distorted guitar work conjured a bleak, blasted quality, something of a man-made desert, the album can also open in unexpected ways to suddenly become warm and forgiving. Sure, the landscape you’re exploring might be a nuked, zombie-infested wasteland, but moments of loveliness still appear.
If you’re in the mood for an inner journey to the centre of your psyche via the road of bone-shaking, chest reverberating riffs and hallucinatory song structures, Maleficia Lamiah is a hell of a spirit guide. Equal parts muscularity and mysticism, the record presents a great balance of the big, weird sound composed of intricate, even baroque layering. Like any singular vision, it is not for anyone, and so eac individual listener will have to determine if this record is oasis or mirage.