Bottomless – Bottomless Review

One of the most anticipated releases on my radar this month was a debut from brand new Italian doom metal act Bottomless. Most of said anticipation came from the fact it featured Messa’s outstanding vocalist Sara Bianchin on bass rather than vocals. That seemed such an odd twist that it made me curious what the Bottomless sound would consist of. As it turns out the band travels in the same circles as vintage Pentagram and Saint Vitus but with a slightly more stoner-esque edge than either of those classic acts possessed. It’s bluesy, laid back doom without an especially heavy edge, at times feeling like Pentagram┬áLite. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and the band is talented enough to pull the style off, but there’s something missing in the end product that leaves me ambivalent despite it being firmly in the wheelhouse of Steel.

What Bottomless seek to accomplish is apparent early on with opener “Monastery.” It’s the classic 80s style of doom as previously done by all the great American doom acts (which of course all owe a life debt to Black Sabbath). This song could be placed on almost any Saint Vitus, Pentagram or Trouble album from the 80s and it would more or less fit in. The riffs are elegant in their minimalism and Giorgio Trombino’s vocals bear an eerie resemblance to Scott Reagers of Saint Vitus fame. It’s a good enough song, if a bit underwhelming and overly sedate. “Centuries Asleep” is a much better number, with elevated energy and up-tempo, rocking edge carried by a very Sabbathian lead riff. In fact, this cut could have appeared on Sabbath’s Vol. 4 without causing much of a ripple on the surface, which is a big compliment. It’s a highlight and indicator of what the band can do when things all come together. Another solid moment comes with the slower, heavier slog of “Ash” where the Saint Vitus vibe is thick as tar.

The rest of Bottomless runs from decent to a bit dull. While band has talent, the writing lets them down. The title track is a generic, unexciting stab at 80s doom, and cuts like “Vestige” and closer “Cradling Obsession” have moments that stand out but both end up feeling like colorless copies of stuff I was jamming in my teen years. The album mostly consists of low energy stuff, even for classic doom, and though it would sound fine playing in the background at a dive bar, it doesn’t hold up well with focused, intense listening. Working in the album’s favor are the short song lengths. Most sit in the 4-5 minute window with none exceeding the 5:30 mark. This allows Bottomless to feel fairy light and manageable even when it isn’t all that attention-grabbing. The production is also a boon, with a warm, inviting mix and a good guitar tone harkening back to the old days.

As the guitarist and vocalist, Giorgio Trombino is the star of the show here. He’s got a smooth, easy to like voice well-suited to doom. He’s clearly spent a long time listening to the classic acts, as his vocal phrasing will remind you of everyone from Wino to Bobby Liebling and the aforementioned Mr. Reagers. His riff-sense is at times quite impressive, with “Centuries Asleep” being his high water mark. His style is clearly influenced by Tony Iommi but I hear a lot of Pentagram’s Victor Griffin too, especially at solo time. Though it was Sara Bianchin’s bass-work that interested me originally, there isn’t a whole lot to report on that front. She’s a capable player but doesn’t distinguish herself much. She gets no time behind the mic either, which is a bit disappointing, but apparently she wanted to branch out and try new things, which I respect.

Bottomless is a very young act, having only formed in the last year. Needless to say there’s plenty of room to grow and mature, and as debuts go, Bottomless isn’t bad. It plays like a loving tribute to the doom masters, but aside from a few standout cuts, the band isn’t doing anything especially earth-shaking aside from respecting the elders. I suspect things will rise from the bottom for the band in the future, though it’s unclear if they have what it takes to reach the top levels of doom.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Spikerot Records
Releases Worldwide: July 16th, 2021

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