Over the last fifteen-to-twenty years, Italy has been home to a thriving, vibrant, underground stoner/doom/psyche rock scene. The country, while not getting as much attention as the UK, or Sweden, for being ground zero for the European scene has, nonetheless, continued to produce wave after wave of bands offering their own unique takes on the power of the riff. Italian legends Ufomammut instantly come to mind and have been offering crushing, psychedelic riffage since 1999. Bergamo’s El Thule, one of my personal all-time favorite stoner rock bands, really made an impact in the early 00’s with ragers No Guts, No Glory and Green Magic. Black Rainbows have put out multiple killer releases, and the Italian label Heavy Psych Sounds has been releasing quality records for years now, as well as re-issuing a lot of releases from stoner rock legends like Dozer and Brant Bjork.
So, now we have another player in the Italian stoner/doom scene, Bottomless. Although the band have been honing their craft since forming in 2016, they’ve just released their Self-Titled debut on Spikerot Records. In that time, the band clearly refined their skills, zeroing in on a specific strain of stoner rock, as they proclaim their love for all-things Sabbatharian, as well as other doom overlords like Saint Vitus and Pentagram.
Opener Monastery certainly doesn’t stray from the bands mission statement. Guitarist/vocalist Giorgio Trombino offers up some Iommian riffage, to begin the proceedings. His voice, also fits the mold, displaying an anguished, doom-y howl, sounding like a cross between Bobby Liebling and Lee Dorian. Centuries Asleep features a nice intro/main riff, as the rhythm section of bassist Sara Bianchin, and drummer David Lucido hold down a considerable grove. Bottomless take a doom-y turn towards the end and ride that riff , showing the chops to keep the listener’s attention.
Like Sabbath’s debut, we also have Bottomless the band, Bottomless the record, and Bottomless the song. A lurching, stomping riff monster that reeks of both Garry ‘Gaz’ Jennings riffage and tone from The Ethereal Mirror era Cathedral. The Talking Mask also has me thinking Cathedral. Trombino’s riffs and tone are strikingly similar to Jennings in a lot of places on this record. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the band’s stated goals are worshiping at the altar of the forefathers of the genre, of which Cathedral most certainly are, and I for one have never felt Jennings got his due as a riff lord and tone master.
packed to the gills with all the riffs, howling vocals, rumbling bass, and behind-the-beat drumming any stoner/doom can ask for…
Loosing Shape is a highlight of the record for me. As more of an up-tempo rocker following the aforementioned title track and Ash which is another slower riff-dirge. Loosing Shape is sequenced nicely, cleansing the sonic palette after two bruisers in a row that features both stellar riffage and lead work from Trombino. Loveless Reign is another favorite of mine. Trombino’s intro/main riff are heavy, yet melodic, and his vocals compliment the track well. Trombino has definitely done his homework on not only the classic doom riff lords, but the vocalists as well. He really lets his inner Liebling shine through. In fact, I felt the back half of Bottomless to be slightly stronger than the first half, this song suite grabbing my attention more as I was absorbing the record.
Cradling Obsession hammers this point home with arguably the nastiest riff on the entire record. An instant headbanger and was certainly another highlight for me. I must also heap some praise on the rhythm section. Track-after-tack on Bottomless both Bianchin and Lucido really hold down the bottom-end (pun intended) doing their best Ward & Butler impersonations to complement Trombino’s riffage and vocals. Hell Vacation is the closer on my copy, a bonus track for the CD version. The track works well as a closer, but for my money Cradling Obsession could’ve closed things out with a clear exclamation point.
Clearly since their inception in 2016, the musicians in Bottomless have worked hard on their craft. This is a solid, great-sounding, well-sequenced debut, packed to the gills with all the riffs, howling vocals, rumbling bass, and behind-the-beat drumming any stoner/doom can ask for. It can be hard to stand out in this genre, so, sometimes attempting to reinvent the wheel isn’t as pleasing as some straight-up Sabbath worship, and that’s exactly what Bottomless offer up.
On a random note, like their aforementioned fellow countrymen, Bottomless are a power trio. I do find it interesting that Italian stoner rock has produced so many awesome bands with this line-up configuration.
Scribed by: Martin Williams