Tentacles. I love ’em. Big fan of betentacled things here, so I knew I was onto a winner when I saw the packaging for this CD was festooned with the wiggly things. Add to that the fact that I had the good fortune to see Bastard Of The Skies play here in sunny Manchester back in 2008 and was terribly impressed by their ferocious visceral sludge in a live setting, and you have the beginnings of a definite man-crush on my part.
Thankfully, I am pleased to report that ‘Ichor! Ichor!’ – the Bastard’s second full-length – is in no way, shape or form a disappointment. It IS, in fact a total fucking MONSTER of a record. A YUUUUGE, betentacled colossus of a monster. The kind that emerges from the depths of the ocean bedecked in seaweed, eats an entire air force, nibbles on the navy, stamps on Tokyo for a few hours then pisses off back to the depths with a belch of fire and a jaunty shake of its appendages to shake free any screaming hooman beans it may have accidentally suckered up during its rampage.
Coming on like an infinitely more metallic version of The Melvins at their darkest, or a more lumbering pre-Prog Mastodon, and reminding me greatly of the late, lamented (well, ’round THESE here parts, anyways…) Swarm Of The Lotus, Bastard Of The Skies are a seeeeeeeriously HEAVY proposition. From the suffocating murk of opener ‘Just A Horse’, with its lurching stop-starts, Isis-esque twinkles and buried vocal roars, through the wonderfully crunchy, Karp-ishly propulsive riffs, of ‘Can You Fly Bobby?’and ‘Lariat’, via the full-on ‘Stoner Witch’ era-Melvinisms of ‘A Legendary Temper’ and the asphyxiatingly heavy, yet creepily subtle ‘(Tree Of) Woe’, the Bastards lumber, lurch, strangle and pummel us for near-enough three quarters of an hour before begrudgingly relenting, leaving the listener violated and soiled but begging for more abuse.
Recorded and produced by the band themselves in their own studio and mastered by the prolific James Plotkin, the sound of ‘Ichor! Ichor!’ is weighty and forceful, the glutinous crunch of the guitars and the pulsing bass pushed to the forefront, with occasional guitar flourishes that rise above the dense, deadly morass and pull the listeners ear in further, moments that either ring out sweetly or jar dischordantly. The vocals are a buried roar or occasional whisper, lurking beneath the scabrous surface and adding further bite to the scalding stew of sound, along with the propulsive clatter of the drums, but its the weighty heft of the guitars that drive Bastards Of The Skies’ mighty war-engine, huge,monstrous and heavier than a death in the family.
Believe me, unlike Tony Harrison, these Bastards know ALL about the crunch.
Label: Mother Should Know Records
Scribed by: Paul Robertson