Review: Bismut ‘Retrocausality’

Bismut formed in 2016 in Nijmegen in The Netherlands and consists of Huibert – bass, Peter – Drums and Nik on guitar. Retrocausality is the sophomore release from the trio and follows 2018’s Schwerpunkt. It would be remiss of me not to mention the beautiful cover art, it has a psychedelic sheen and consists of an enigmatic red sun (?) radiating in a dense forest, reminding me of the output of British design agency Hipgnosis. These guys designed album covers for Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Yes and Genesis to name a few.

Bismut 'Retrocausality'

Oscuramento which opens the album was released on Bandcamp as a single back in August, I say single, it’s over thirteen minutes long. This is definitely not The Ramones catchy power-pop punk. Oscuramento features some impressive soloing by Nik with Peter and Huibert providing a solid backbeat. The band have been described as psychedelic desert metal, although I am not really sensing Yawning Man vibes here. It has a more European sensibility, a little more forceful and not as laid back. I’m reminded of Greek instrumentalists Arrakis and their fantastic Technontology Vol. 1 album.

Non-Lokaliteit takes cues from Karma To Burn with some awesome aggressive riffage before we hit a delicate patch where the band slows things down considerably. If you had a spliff to hand this would be your chance to light up and sink away into the Planet Caravan styled mellow loveliness. Around the seven minute mark things get even mellower and the music is barely audible, suggestive of something dangerous to come that may potentially blow your eardrums out. It’s to the band’s credit that they keep you guessing.

Predvidanie starts off with a bang, a circular middle eastern riff that hooks into your brain and never lets up…

Predvidanie starts off with a bang, a circular middle eastern riff that hooks into your brain and never lets up. There are some 70s prog inflections too, especially around the six minute fifty second or so mark, reminding one of Yes and there are even hints of Hawkwind styled space rock. There’s also some nice robust riffing, definitely my favourite track on the album. I read one review of the Retrocausality which mentioned Tool and that is definitely the feel I get when listening to Varasaga, there’s some of that band’s darkness omnipresent intermingled with the bands trademark technical prowess

Just when you wanted a breather with a comparatively shorter track, bam, in comes penultimate number Vergangenheit at a whopping fifteen minutes and forty seconds. It starts off with some pretty nice Jazz style guitar that reminds me of King Crimson at times. There are remnants of Voivod’s eccentric progressive space metal too, especially a track like Jack Luminous (The Outer Limits), but the lack of vocals make for a far more challenging listen by comparison and it’s easy to lose track of where in the song you are. The band finally show some mercy and conclude with the three minute plus Antithesis, the majority of which is a collection of distortion and various noises.

I’m someone who listens to Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew and Merzbow’s Merzbeat for fun so I’m not totally averse to difficult listening experiences, but I found this tough going at times. I respect the band’s uncompromising approach to making music, they’re first rate musicians with some excellent ideas and there were some moments of pure joy and excitement to be had. You were taken on a journey during the course of the album but there were times when that journey felt uncomfortable, like you were in a ramshackle old bus being driven in a desert with temperatures well over 100 degrees. Not for the faint of heart.

Label: Lay Bare Recordings
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills