Monday, 14 January 2013

SautruS - Kuelmaggah Mysticism: The Prologue (album review)

One of the many lessons I learned in 2012 was to pay close and particular attention to the Polish underground stoner/doom scene.  With bands like Snake Thursday, O.D.R.A, Dopelord and Satellite Beaver destroying ear drums the country's underground scene is very healthy.  SautruS follow in the wake of these great bands and set their own path.  Their four song EP showcases the band's heavy brand of progressive stoner rock that is far reaching and monumental.

"Seed" is a grunge rock by way of the desert slow cooker in which vocalist Weno Winter's Maynard-esque vocals provide the song and much of the four song EP with a Tool-like feel.  The musicians in the band (Michal Nowak - guitar, Adrian Formela - bass and Arek Bogulski - drums) do their fair share of lending the songs that epic feeling as well with psychedelic explorations and swirling sandstorm desert rock atmospherics.  Descending riffs, softly marching drums, bludgeoning syncopation and casually sung yet highly talented double tracked vocals create a strong identity for the quartet, showing great promise.  The second track is made up of two sections, "The Blackest Hole / Black Hole".  "The Blackest Hole" sets things in motion with percussive atmospherics, droney vibes and slithering whispers spilled out from beyond the veil of reality.  Halfway through the band gives the listener a glimpse of what's on the other side of the black hole, emerging into a slowly rotating tubular red world as they launch into the menacing riff of "Black Hole".  The restraint shown by the band's propensity to slow things down lends the song a slow-driving and doomy gravitas that the band wears well.  Slicing throbby riffs and an evil drone lead the listener through the other end of the tunnel onto the deck of a bobbing sailboat in coldest space as the mood spills over onto what is ostensibly the title cut "Kuelmaggah Part 1" which is even slower and doomier.

Buzzsaw doom and stuttering syncopation combine with a grunge feel and desert rock moments to create a mini-opera of the evil Captain Robin Goodfellow's Adventures in Outer Space as steampunk space opera feelings pervade this track.  Voices drone and drift across the void.  Once again, Weno takes center stage, the band serving to frame him perfectly, never overshadowing his performance, letting the riffs rings out during his verses, building up during the short breaks between lines.  It's a wise decision to make and I think they know what kind of a talent they have in him.  Weno continues that Maynard feel on closing track "Motheria", without being a clonish copy.  It's a mournful tune sung with a deep yearning or regret.  It's the most somber and reflective song of the bunch.  Though I'd wager the doomier songs have a lower BPM rate, the overall mood makes this song feel like the slowest on the album.  SautruS is a rare band, not unlike Tool or even Pink Floyd that can gain strength, power and momentum by slowing down.  It's contrary to science but somehow they get it done.

There's no doubt that the major draw here is Weno Winter.  His voice is the star of the show and dominates the four songs and with a subtle assist from his bandmates provides much of what makes this EP memorable.  This band is less about catchy riffs and more about creating damp gas-lit atmospheres and they are blessed with a vocalist to match their sobering moods.

The EP's title 'Kuelmaggah Mysticism: The Prologue' is hopefully a sign of things to come, if this is truly a prologue then a full-length album of this kind of material could be something truly special.  I think a lot about time and though 24 minutes is a healthy length for a four song EP and the songs certainly feel like complete statements that take the listener, here and there, without having to go absolutely everywhere all at once to get the point across, overall it goes by in a flash, as time is wont to do when one is enjoying oneself.

Highlights include: "Seed" and "Motheria"

Rating: 4/5
Total Run Time: 24:09

From: Starogard Gdański, Poland

Genre: Stoner Rock, Metal, Blues, Prog, Grunge

Reminds me of: Cube, DSWFrom Beyond, Tool, Year of the Goat

Release Date: October 3, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: The great wooden ship bobbed up and down on the stellar wind, cleaving radiation and deflecting meteorites.  The captain folded his telescope and stuffed it into his inner coat pocket and said "Three sheets up, men.  Been seven hundred years with no word of communication but by Poseidon's beard we're almost home now."  As the crew busied themselves with their various tasks, longing eyes glancing over drooped shoulders, they felt the desolation in their captain's voice.  Ahead of the ship, the red and grey orb expanded before their eyes like the approaching probe of some cold and unsympathetic alien race.  Earth was in flames.

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