Thursday, 7 November 2013

Black Capricorn - Born Under the Capricorn (album review)

Cover artwork by EdoVan.
I've been constantly impressed with the psychedelically-tinged doom coming out of Italy.  From Bretus to Black Land to Void of Sleep to Woodwall and Fangs of the Molossus, Italian psychedelic doom has been one of the defining sounds of 2013 at Paranoid HQ.  One of the defining albums of the Italian psych doom sound has been 'Born Under the Capricorn' by Sardinian three-piece Black Capricorn.  'Born Under the Capricorn' was recorded as a five-piece with Lord Fex on lead guitar and Il Baro on synth and vocals, but the band has since slimmed down to a power trio with rhythm guitarist Fabrizio taking over on vocals and retaining power packed rhythm section Virginia (bass) and Rachela (drums).  The album came out a long many months ago and I'd been dying to hear it, I was unable to for the longest time what with it being a vinyl-only release and me without a turntable,  until the band got a hold of me and sent the files, so I'd like to thank them first off for that!

The watchword here is "vastness".  Side A spins into being with the 8 minute "Tropic of Capricorn" which blends into "Born Under the Capricorn" which is almost exactly twice the former's length.  It seems there's no end to the stream of consciousness riff and atmospherics display, but it never feels that way.  These songs move and the band knows how to hold the listener's interest, when to hypnotize them and when to vacate the premises in a timely fashion.  "Tropic of Capricorn" cracks open a riff which I can only describe as sounding as though the devil is mocking you with his corded laughter.  A passage of smokey vocals and a guitar and synth solo that may or may not be R2D2 on crack cocaine hooking up with a devious vixen later and things start to get really weird.  Really weird, but still musical, still logical.  The sounds Black Capricorn displays here are fluid, suggestive and utilitarian, whatever sound comes to hand can be used, shaped, manipulated and vivisected into their strange constellation of noise.  Electronic bleeps and farts enmesh with guitars set on "grooves control" and though the way I'm describing this may sound like a disaster, the overall tone remains constantly doomy and dark, the strangeness of it lends it the air of the Lovecraftian without having to rely on lyrics about Yog Sothoth and his buddies.  Black Capricorn achieves this tone naturally, through the music.

"Born Under the Capricorn" continues the spirit of exploration.  The band finds themselves locked in to a serious groove and begins pulling out all the stops with guitar solos and outbursts of harmonica.  And once the groove has come to its zenith, it's time to rebuild from scratch.  The groove returns, re-born from an alien, cavernous soundscape dotted with ideas.  Side A then comes to a close.  No opportunity has been lost, no idea has been left on the table.  Psychedelic doom has been delivered, readily, ably and admirably.

Side B is made up of three songs all about five and a half minutes in length.  The band has proven their worth in fully exploring a groove and its inherent possibilities in expansive settings on Side A, on Side B the band just cranks them out, one after another.  Instrumental track, "Capricornica" menaces the listener with flying saucers from hell buzzing overhead.  Rapid synth pulses keep one foot in the sky and the heavy as lead balls riff keeps one fimrly planted in the land of shades.  "Double Star Goatfish" is certainly "single worthy" with an exuberant performance by Rachela on drums and a chunky riff.  The idea for the riff came to the band when they were grinding up souls to fix a nice lite snack.  Anyway, that must be how they came up with it, because that's just what it sounds like.  The vocals reach a higher pitch here with a nice Alice in Chains-ian close harmony which starts to sound menacingly chanty and robotic before opening up once more into a three part harmony as the song comes to a close.  "Scream of Pan" is another highlight, very much single material again.  A midnight dark bassline courtesy of Virginia sets the stage for a spoken verse before pounding into the chorus which features another close harmony.

'Born Under the Capricorn' is the band's second album and though I can't vouch for the first, self-titled album from 2011, I can say that based on what I've heard (you can hear a couple songs from 'Black Capricorn' on youtube, here and here.  Oh, and here too), Black Capricorn sounds confident here, with no holding back.  As I mentioned earlier, the band has slimmed down to the original lineup that appeared on the debut record, they have released the Black Sabbath cover, "Solitude" which you can find on the Myelin Constellation compilation, which I featured a few weeks ago right here.  The way the album is sequenced, it leaves you wanting more.  After a full course feast on Side A, you get three sugary snacks on the flipside and you find yourself wanting to get lost in the groove again, that's when you flip the record over a second time (for me, I do this 'virtually') and start again from the beginning.  It's an excellent showcase for a band with seemingly two sides.  Again, this album is available on vinyl only and you can find out where to get a hold of it at the bottom of the page.  For fans of doom this is a strong album and delivered on or maybe even exceeded my own expectations.  Anticipation can kill appreciation but that hasn't happened here.  For fans of Italian psychedelic doom, this album is absolutely essential, it gives you what you need and does it in a different way.  I confidently recommend this album to any doom fan with a turntable and 40 minutes to spend.

Highlights include: "Tropic of Capricorn" and "Double Star Goatfish"

Rating: 4.5/5

1). Tropic of Capricorn (8:22)
2). Born Under the Capricorn (16:39)
3). Capricornica (5:22)
4). Double Star Goatfish (5:46)
5). Scream of Pan (5:38)
Total Run Time: 41:43

From: Caglari, Sardinia, Italy

Genre: Psychedelic Doom, Space Rock

Reminds me of: Bretus, Doomraiser, Fangs of the Molossus

Release Date: March 4, 2013

Black Capricorn on facebook



  1. these guys are great, thanks for bringing them to my attention!


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