Sunday, 26 October 2014

Sea Bastard - Scabrous 2xLP


There's nowt like a lazy, lumbering Sunday. Thankfully I have a clear head, which is about to tackle this hefty double slab of black wax. Scabrous is the second full-length release from Brighton's Sea Bastard and was released earlier this year in a four-way collaboration between Mosh Tuneage, Dry Cough Records, Black Reaper Records and Cat Face Records, while once again featuring brilliant artwork by guitarist Oliver Irongiant.

Sea Bastard are one of the bands currently leading the surge in UK doom/sludge and are already in the process of releasing a new split LP with Californian band, Keeper. Scabrous itself was only released in May, so it's a productive period for the band.

Tracklist:-

1. Nokken
2. Nightmares of The Monolith
3. Door Sniffer
4. Metamorphic Possession

There aren’t many bands I know of that choose to open a record with a seventeen-minute song (or who could indeed get away with it), but then there’s no rule book when it comes to music. Nokken is that song and it’s initially full of feedback and drawn out riffage. The vocals are low and the cymbal crashes keep the time-signature at a crawl. It’s not rammed with melody either, just crushing low-end heft. After a while, the rhythms drag your head back and forth, threatening the muscles and bone that holds it up. Nokken is split into movements that are bridged by minimal guitar/bass driven sections and when the heavier riffs ring out, it’s punishing. 

Sea Bastard’s formula is obvious to spot on Scabrous, but that’s no bad thing at all. Nightmares of The Monolith takes the feedback drenched feel of the album opener and condenses it into a song with more urgency (if that’s even possible from a doom band!). It’s not warp speed and will never be, but live it’ll be a beast. It’s the musical equivalent of the fat that is slowly wrapping itself around your arteries.  The excellently named Door Sniffer starts off in a pretty laid back fashion and retains part of that feeling throughout. I guess it would have made Scabrous ultra challenging if Sea Bastard kept it at the claustrophobic level of the previous songs. The lead guitar adds melody and there’s extras groove hidden within the song. Add to that some trippy guitar effects and the mood of the album changes from dank to subtly psychedelic, at least for a few minutes anyway.

Sea Bastard leave the most torturous song till the end. Metamorphic Possession takes the hints of the psychedelic guitar from Door Sniffer, adds some jazz and fire headfirst into one final twenty-minute slab of doom. It’s instrumental for the most part, allowing the vocals to take a back seat at times. I think the slightly different approach that Sea Bastard take with this song underlines how heavy they are. As the feedback builds toward the mid-point before giving way to bass-heavy riffs, it’s hard to imagine things getting lighter. That does happen though shortly after, when the band settles into an introspective passage. It’s short and acts as a mere break before they pick up the sludge one more time. It ends with a barrage of riffs, in the same way it started.

Scabrous, like other doom/sludge long players, definitely deserves a full sitting. It’s not the sort of album that you can listen to is small doses. It’s more focused than the band’s self-titled debut full-length and it benefits from all of the honing they’ve picked up from the road. Sea Bastard have settled on a formula that hits right where it should. Good job!

You can stream Scabrous and grab it as a name-your-price download from Sea Bastard, via their bandcamp page:-




Grab vinyl copies from the below places:-

Mosh Tuneage - http://moshtuneage.bigcartel.com
Dry Cough Records - http://drycoughrecords.bigcartel.com
Black Reaper Records - http://blackreaperrecords.bigcartel.com
Cat Face Records - http://catfacerecords.bigcartel.com

Sea Bastard Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/seabastarddoom
Mosh Tuneage Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/MoshTuneage
Dry Cough Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/DryCoughRecords
Black Reaper Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/blackreaperrecords
Cat Face Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/catfacerecords

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