Containing as it does the first recorded material from ex-Bongzilla duo Aquilonian, I guess you could call this release ‘eagerly anticipated’ by lovers of heavy-ass music. Throw in the added bonus of them sharing the disc with the monstrous Sollubi, and I guess you could up the ante there to ‘HOTLY anticipated’. I was eager to hear this release myself as I had greatly admired Sollubi’s full-length CD ‘At War With Decency’, after hearing it in Thee Shaman’s car a while back and being blown away. SO, without further ado…….
Aquilonian are first up, with the MONSTROUS 31 and a biscuit minute-long ‘Symphonica De Levita’, and having sat through it I can honestly say that the first thing that went through my head was ‘SLEEP’. I mean, that’s not exactly unusual with bands of this ilk…y’know…the ‘stoner doom’ thang…but THESE guys have really got it nailed. There is a fluidity and sense of space in the music that is missing with a lot of Sleep-influenced bands. They spend a good fifteen minutes building up and playing on one or two variations on a grooving chug-type riff before any vocals come in, and I have to say that it is in NO way boring or drawn-out. The throbbing low-end of the guitar and the pulse of the drums lends a very hypnotic feel to Aquilonian’s sound. I was nodding out and totally drawn into their pulsating sound-world. Like, wow. The vocals, which are used sparingly and placed low in the mix, are higher in pitch and more melodic than those of Al Cisneros, but still maintain that semi-chanting feel that fits this kind of sound so well. They sound double-tracked too, which adds to the vast scale of Aquilonian’s sound. Following on from the vocal section of the track, the duo take the sound RIGHT down to just humming, slightly effected, feedback and shuffling drums for a while, playing around with slight variations on the core rhythm of the track and different subtle accents, before kickin’ back in with a driving, tumbling riff that carries us to the end in style. Considering that I was never much of a fan of Bongzilla, I dig what I’m hearing here VERY much – very organic playing with a tasteful sense of space. Both thumbs aloft from me.
Now, Sollubi are a VERY different beast. ‘The Struggle’ is firmly in the Burning Witch school of doom, tuned to the richter scale, and utterly devoid of mercy. Suffocating, juddering bass and stealthily creeping guitar are what greet us at the outset, along with the minimal but powerful drumming of erstwhile Fistula mainman Corey Bing. Over the course of 36 monolithic minutes, Sollubi attempt to fold time and space, and to generally cave our faces in with balls-out slo-mo doom riffing that is so slug-paced and overpowering that at times it sounds like it’s running BACKWARDS. Vocalist Jesse is an intense, embittered presence who brings to mind the spite and presence of old-school hardcore frontmen such as Henry Rollins, when he still MEANT something, and Clifford Dinsmore of B’last. Y’know, PISSED. OFF. Jesse also piles on more sonic weight and brings more pain, along with guitarist Griff, by adding judiciously applied synth and processing to the latter half of ‘The Struggle’. The swirling, burbling electronics bring a Power Electronics feel to Sollubi as the bass, guitar and drums begin to grind down under their own weight whilst being ridden by the high frequency processing. The final death throes of ‘The Struggle’ are drawn out over an agonizing near-ten-minute disintegrating crawl, leaving only a monstrous low-end throb of thrumming feedback, increasingly skeletal drumming and pinging, whirring electronics sounding out into the void.
So there you have it. Two bands, over an hour, COLLOSSAL.
Sound heavy enough for ya? Well, then, GO GET IT!
Scribed by: Paul Robertson