With myself now firmly rooted in 2022, it was about time I pulled my big boy socks up and delved back into reviewing. I took the plunge, and boy, what a way to start, with an absolute stunner of an album. Fostermother, of Houston Texas, are back, with their second raging slab of doom fare, and this time it’s a nine-track monster entitled The Ocean.
For those of you who are unaware of Fostermother, they are an American doom three-piece, who started life as a duo. Travis Weatherred and Stephen Griffin went about recruiting Jason Motamed after the success of their debut, the self-titled Fostermother in 2020. Since then they have been busy fine-tuning their sound, ready to unleash hell on the forthcoming The Ocean.
Keeping all of the doom genre sensibilities, Fostermother don’t ever stray too far from that path, but fully embrace it, to devastating effect. For me, the most instant response is to a Mike Dean style bass approach. Fuzzy and menacing, it drives the powerhouse sound, and runs rampantly throughout the whole album.
There’s a certain safety to the Fostermother sound, it’s everything you want good doom to be, and slots into the demographic perfectly. Add to this Weatherred’s Ozzy Osbourne-esque delivery vocal, and there’s something really quite magical about this whole opus. Over the course of the nine tracks, Fostermother stakes their claim on the doom genre crown, and right from the opening moments, to the dying seconds, it’s a wall of sound.
For me, the tracks Hedonist and Unholiest Of Days really do stand out as defining moments. Hedonist, because after an initially heavy start, it slows to a painful crawl, and as it does, it takes things to a completely new level. Up to this point (and we’re only a couple of tracks in already), it feels like Fostermother are leading us down a fairly predictable path. Hedonist throws out the rulebook and shakes things up completely. After the somewhat drawn-out crawl, things pick up again, and the heavy returns, things are changed. The slower pace opens up new opportunities, and after this, I’m desperate to see where Fostermother takes me next.
a lurching beast, slow and drudgy, yet fuzzy, and downright gritty…
By the time Unholiest Of Days, track five, comes round, everything I thought I knew, is gone. In contrast to the slowed pace on Hedonist, this track is more upbeat and pacy. It’s somewhat anthemic, and I strongly believe that if you were to have a single shot at targeting non-believers, and turning them to the ways of Fostermother, then this is that shot. It really encapsulates just what the trio are all about.
This isn’t to say that the rest of the album pales in comparison, far from it, but I think Unholiest Of Days is the proverbial money shot, but tracks such as Arrival expose us to a more accessible side of Fostermother, whereas Dark Desires picks up on that classic Sabbath vibe. Redeemer seems to take us off on a somewhat NWOBHM trip, while the title track, The Ocean, has us firmly pinned to the ground with its stomping drudgy doom overtone.
Momentarily backing up the truck to track two, Seasons, I feel also deserves a special mention, as it perfectly seizes on the spirit of doom. It’s a lurching beast, slow and drudgy, yet fuzzy, and downright gritty. It hits on a stoner platform too, and again, this is where I draw a comparison to the Ozzy vocals predominantly.
All in all, Fostermother aren’t breaking any new ground, it’s a well-worn path that they could easily have stuck to, and still put out a perfectly top-quality album, where from start to finish, you know what you are getting. But they haven’t.
Fostermother have taken the mold, the groundwork, and laid some stones toward a new path. It’s as refreshing as it is comfortable, like an old pair of slippers, but with added go faster stripes. It’s a true gem to behold, and as doom records go, this one is a little slice of fried gold.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish