I don’t know what it is lately with the United Kingdom and it’s inhabitants looking to bulldozer over all those around them. With Conan crushing heads like they’re little businessmen on Kids in the Hall, it seems like the UK is a new hotbed for monolithic, slower-than-a-glacier doom metal. Scotland’s Of Spire & Throne are tossing their cabers into the ring, bringing forth quite the slab of sludge with their three-song EP, Toll of the Wound, and dangnammit, this deserves to be heard!
“Legacy” starts off innocently enough, with a couple of strummed chords, a little bit of simple drumming weirdly recalling early Godflesh. Once the bass and distortion kicks in, you will go hunting for your teeth. This is a very full-sounding three-piece band. Ali Lauder’s thick-as-molasses guitar tone is meaty and bludgeoning, and his grizzly-bear-on-steroids growling is rather impressive. A lot of newer bands tend to go the SunnO))) route of “how slow can we go?,” and although it does happen a bit in this track, it’s peppered with some serious groove and swagger, both brought forth by drummer Graham Stewart and bassist Matthew Davies.
The almost-thirteen-minute finale, “Cascading Shard” would be Ming the Merciless’s new entrance theme in Flash Gordon. The feeling of sheer evil and suffocating might is immense, and it sure as fuck doesn’t feel like a thirteen-minute song. Stewart’s crawling war-drums segue off halfway into the song, with Lauder going full Godflesh with some open chord strumming and Davies’s lumbering bass riffs before going back to the kill near the end [You never go full Godflesh! — Steel Druhm]. But it’s “Tower of Glass,” the instrumental meat in the doom sandwich, that impressed me the most. Stewart’s simple drum pattern would loop almost throughout the song’s nine-minute length, with some simple-yet-effective guitar riffs and basslines providing one of the most suffocating atmospheres heard all year so far. Impressive.
One thing of note is just how well-produced and filled out this EP sounds. James Plotkin (ex-Khanate) and producer Graeme Young did an amazing job of giving an aura of punishing hopelessness without destroying my headphones, computer speakers, or car amplifiers. No matter the volume, Toll of the Wound destroys. You can hear how clear the hi-hat hits and snare rimshots are in “Tower of Glass” without worrying about the weight of the guitars or bass being deadened. Quite an amazing feat. One thing of note, though, this record’s level of enjoyment requires your full attention to be effective. This isn’t music to clean dishes, do your homework, and write an extensive essay to. This requires you to sit down and absorb. The rewards are well worth it.
Without any prior exposure to their mammoth sound, I came away from Toll of the Wound rather impressed. Of Spire & Throne are what a power trio should be, with major emphasis on power. This hit all the right notes, and it will stay with you as well, if you give it an honest spin, play, or rewind (it will be available on cassette as well!), so there’s no excuse to miss out on some primo doom.