It should be clear by now we have a real affinity for doom metal around here, especially stuff that makes us want to thrash our heads in place while sitting on a couch. That is a true accomplishment, because who wants to be active while lounging?
“Toll of the Wound,” the latest EP from Scottish doom trio Of Spire and Throne, scratches a serious itch when it comes to drubbing, deliberately delivered doom metal, and yes, I have noticed that this effort has me wanting to pound away on the coffee table in front of me when I listen to this. I do a lot of listening from the couch, also known as my office. That seriously takes something to make me feel that way. You have to know what you’re doing as a band and really be dialed into the music, and these guys don’t fail ever in that regard on this three-track basher. They hammer out the music like they’re trying to torture it slowly and with menace, and that has carried over to me every chance I’ve spent with this EP.
Of Spire and Throne have been kicking around for about five years now, having released their first offering in 2010 with their self-titled demo, following that up a year later with their first EP “The Trial of Failure.” They returned in 2012 with another EP “Vagary,” contributed to a 2013 split release with Ortega on a monster of a project that’s nearly 90 minutes long, and now they have “Toll,” that is being released domestically by Broken Limbs Recordings. The folks behind this punishing band are guitarist/vocalist Ali Lauder (who also plays with death metal act Acatalepsy), bassist Matthew Davis, and drummer/synth player Graham Stewart, and for this record, they have James Plotkin mastering the music, who knows a thing or two about how to get the best and grimiest sounds out of the bands he works with such as Batillus, Conan (who would be a strong comparison to Of Spire and Throne), and Culted.
The EP kicks off with “Legacy,” that has strong, poking lead guitar work that steers into the first severe mauling the band dishes out over this 30-minute monster of a release. The band just pounds you over and over again, in a drawn-out, calculated fashion, and the vocals are savage and grisly the whole way around. Toward the end of the song, noise greets the sludgy madness and continues to ring out for most of the rest of the track, making the final moments feel like utter obliteration. “Tower of Glass” is a lengthy instrumental, opening with sticks tapping and cymbals crashing, then working into slow rumbles, boiling chaos, and a thick fog of sound that could suffocate. It’s like a walk through damp woods in the fog while you aimlessly try to find your way to some sort of safe haven.
Closer “Cascading Shard” runs 12:47, the longest track on here by a few minutes, and is more penetrating doom, feedback-rich static, and grim vocals that drip with evil intent. Not to beat this point into the ground, but they once again mete out furious punishment that continues to bash you about the head and body, never relenting, and never offering any mercy. And it’s a really satisfying feature of the band, because they have such a strong grasp of this approach and don’t seem too worried about what they destroy. The back end has the guitars slipping into smoking drone that continues to torture the rest of the way. Eventually some lead lines show some swagger, and the sweltering ending leaves you exhausted. You will know you have been in a struggle once this EP is over, and you’ll need some time to get your strength back.
Of Spire and Throne always leave my doom metal needs satisfied. If you need hooks and big riffs that sound like they emanated from someone’s druggy inhibitions, you won’t really find that here. “Toll of the Wound” is tougher and burlier than those bands’ work, and my guess is you’d walk away with severe hearing damage if you witnessed them live. This is the artistic expression of a massive beating, one that adds another strong band to the collection of those who want their doom to hurt and bruise. I wonder what these barbarians could do with a full-length record.
For more on the band, go here: http://ofspireandthrone.com/
To buy the album, go here: http://brokenlimbs.bigcartel.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://brokenlimbsrecordings.com/