The Grymm Grab Bag© can be quite the two-sided beast of a backpack when utilized. For every moment when I pull out a gem by a promising band, I get two or three that end up closer to this. Forever undaunted (or just plain stupid), I once again reach into the bag of unknown-to-me goodies hoping to not get struck like that poor sap in Flash Gordon, and I am presented with The Comfort of Loss & Dust, the third album by London’s Cold in Berlin. Now, they’ve been covered in these hallowed pages before, but having no prior experience with their music, and seeing as how their new album was described as “stoner doom” on the promo, I dove right in head first and with swimfins removed, to experience this band for the first time.
And I would only call this “stoner doom” in the broadest of paint strokes. Hell, I would say that it’s not quite what you would even call “metal.” Now, there is definitely some major heft in a lot of Adam’s guitar riffs and Lawrence’s bass lines, but I would definitely lean this more in the direction of what Siouxsie and the Banshees would sound like while jamming out to some Cathedral. Opener “She Walks” lurches forward with an ominous bass line, before the drums and guitars thunder forth. But it’s when Maya appears with her haunting coos and periodic banshee yelps that you’re drawn in, like a fly caught in the most viscous of spider webs. Both captivating and ensnaring, her performance, as well as the heft-and-lurch provided by her bandmates, lure you into their grips and do their damnedest to keep you there.
They succeed for the most part. During album standout “The Bell,” the guitar simulates a church bell ringing, while Maya proclaims “One more bell…/One more bell and I’m yours/and from my belly/the beast crawls…” in the most alluring-yet-very-uncomfortable way, blending Siouxsie Sioux with Jarboe in what is easily a strong contender for my Song of the Year. Elsewhere, “Pray for Us” brings a seriously thick Type O Negative vibe with some ultra-low male vocals in the chorus. The one-two punch of the overly sexual “The Sinner” bleeding into the raucous “Fucking Loud” has to be heard to be believed, melding goth rock sensibilities with Kyuss-like groove to great effect.
Produced and mastered by Jaime Gomez Arellano (Sunn O))), Electric Wizard) at Gun Factory Studios, the album sounds an awful lot like the old goth records of yesterday. Frank’s drums take a little bit of a hit (especially in the cymbals), but otherwise it’s a solid production, despite it’s low dynamic score. Sadly, sixth track “Mysterious Spells,” a piece that’s mostly spoken word, almost pulled me out of the album entirely. It takes something special to make spoken word work on a record, but this song pulls the record down so much that the subsequent four tracks suffer a bit, even though they’re good songs themselves.
Otherwise, what we have here is a cool amalgamation of doom, punk rock, and 80’s goth music, and it works quite well. Sure, it’s barely metal, but if you’re down for something different, you could do a whole lot worse than The Comfort of Loss & Dust. Color me pleasantly surprised!