Much like the axe featured on its cover, Bereft‘s Lands splits listener’s skulls with over 45 minutes of sprawling, blackened doom.
Coming nearly three years after the release of their debut full-length, Lost Ages, Lands sees the Wisconsinites taking a darker and more suffocating sonic turn. Compared to the post-black metal stylings of its predecessor, Lands shows Bereft fully embracing the doom metal elements of their sound. The result is four tracks of dismal aural destruction that crushes those who listen, while simultaneously ripping the hope from them.
The record is bookended by two leviathanic tracks, “We Wept” and “Waning Light”, both of which clock in at well over 12 minutes in length. “We Wept” wastes no time kicking the record off with lumbering, insurmountably heavy instrumentation that crushes like Polyphemus crushed Odysseus’ crew under his foot. Thunderous bass lines collide head on with darkened doom guitars, as steady and concussive drumming provide the song’s rhythmic backbone. Harsh, throat-searing screams and gruff growls fight for vocal dominance on this track, but often give way to saddened clean singing as the song switches from city-leveling anguish to suffocating melancholia. The song dynamically shifts from gritty doom and gloom to atmospheric dirges, before it explodes into a flurry of furious tremolo-picking and blast beats that bleed into one final apocalyptic doom crawl.
“Waning Light” opens with two-minutes of ethereal guitars that echo among hollow drones and spectral vocals, which lull the listener into a false sense of security. Before long, Bereft unleashes gargantuan riffs that come crashing down upon the listener, making them feel as if they are trapped inside a collapsing building. The song trudges along like an unfathomable beast from ancient mythology, wreaking havoc as it stomps about. These slow and low riffs are eventually accompanied by pseudo black metal leads that soar over listener’s heads as pulverizing rhythms continue their steady march. The song eventually bleeds into an interlude of reflective clean guitars, and further bleeds into a climax of life-ending sonic heaviness and melodic fervor.
The middle of the record is comprised of two shorter numbers titled “The Ritual” and “In Filth”. Both of these tracks feature elements of their lengthier counterparts, but condensed into shorter eight-to-nine minute durations. “The Ritual” begins with ambient soundscapes and tranquil guitars before exploding into a procession of somber funeral doom. Soon the song becomes a back-and-forth struggle between deafening doom metal and post-black metal stampedes, which culminate in a climax of dissonant hell. “In Filth”, in contrast, remains fairly consistent throughout its nine-minute runtime. The track steadily deals out bludgeoning riff after bludgeoning riff, beating the listener into submission before hellacious black metal devours what is left.
Lands makes up for its lack of speed with pure, unrelenting sonic devastation. For 47 minutes, listeners are trapped underneath Bereft‘s unadulterated heaviness and penchant for foreboding atmosphere. The record drains all hope from listeners before pulverizing them into bloody paste. The record’s effortless integration of black and post-metal into relentless and dynamic doom metal makes it one of the best releases of the genre so far this year.
Release Date: March 31, 2017
Label: Prosthetic Records
Favorite Tracks: “We Wept”
For Fans Of: North, Ohhms and In the Company of Serpents