My first exposure to the bleak, raw sounds of St. Petersburg, Florida’s Weltesser was their 2015 demo. It was a brief, yet impressive display of the band’s penchant for writing stripped down, noisy sludge that slowly erodes the listener with every repetition. Here we are a couple of years later and Weltesser has been snatched up by Prosthetic Records and produced a massive first effort for the label in the form of Crestfallen, which was released via bandcamp on 1/27/17.
The six tracks that comprise Crestfallen trudge and wail along in a grime coated echo, evocative of maximum doses of angst, revulsion and hopelessness. Weltesser’s particular take on extreme music blends elements of crust punk and dark hardcore with sludge and doom in a way that brings to mind bands like Disembodied and His Hero is Gone grappling with the riffing of early Black Sabbath and the sonics of Laudanum. I don’t want to mince words regarding my feelings on this approach: it rules. From the hollow rasp of the vocals to the scraping dissonance of nearly every riff, Crestfallen brings the actual pain and anxiety of existence into sharp focus.
Album opener Regret seethes through its first minute with a tense and drawn out opening, then begins chugging its way into a gritty bridge that eventually leads into a magnificent and hugely fuzzy stoner doom riff that resonates massively throughout much of the rest of the track. This moves directly into the filthy bass intro of the second track, Guide; a mid-tempo punisher for much of its first half, sinking into a quieter passage that bridges back into a couple more monstrously heavy riffs punctuated with short bursts of panic-chord screeching.
Another album highlight is Terminal, a track drenched thoroughly in feedback, echo, and dissonance, all laid against the backdrop of Weltesser’s signature simple-yet-effective texture of low end, distorted drone. The album’s remaining two tracks, the re-recorded Rats from the band’s earlier demo, and the title track continue and refine this approach, with the latter featuring some of the heaviest riffs and most downtrodden vibes of the entire record.
In a recent interview with Bandcamp, the band spoke about their influences in writing Crestfallen. The general consensus among them seemed to be that the record was an amalgam of feelings of anxiety, regret, and pain. In keeping with that, the record articulates these emotions in great detail and immerses the listener in their atmosphere without letting up for the duration.
In recent years, the ranks of metal’s sludge/doom subgenres have ballooned with bands trying to emulate their forbears, or each other in endless boring iterations. There are hordes of worshipers of iconic bands kneeling at the altar of shabby facsimiles of the originals and producing derivative, reductive, and unnuanced records that astonishingly somehow generate an audience that believes they hear one or two new chords above the churn of sameness.
However, mixed in among this milieu are a handful of frequently overlooked bands that appear to value expressing the dark confusion and pain of reality above generating another pointless simulacrum of Black Sabbath Vol 4 (which is a great record btw, I’m not looking to get stabbed). Weltesser is one of these rare gems, whose artistic output seems to be a function of real experience and pursuit of a truly bleak aesthetic that pushes the boundaries of ugly and heavy outward a little toward actual oblivion. So, bottom line – if that’s your particular brand of whiskey, then pour yourself a shot, turn on Crestfallen and get depressed.
Pre-order the cd and 12″ LP from Prosthetic here: https://store.prostheticrecords.com/b/weltesser
Get it digitally here: weltesser.bandcamp.com/album/crestfallen
Release Date: January 27, 2017
Label: Prosthetic Records
Favorite Tracks: Terminal, Rats, Crestfallen
For Fans Of: Disembodied, His Hero Is Gone, Thou, Laudanum, Graves at Sea