Edinburgh’s wickedly monikered Jackal-Headed Guard of The Dead play instrumental sludge/doom that’s heavily inspired by H.P Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. Admiration must immediately be bestowed upon the title of this release and the song titles, with ‘The Howling Teeth of Space’ instantly bringing Lovecraftian dread to mind and ‘Humourless Meat Expert’ never failing to raise a smile.
After a lengthy two minute build up of clean yet evil instrumentation, ‘The Howling Teeth of Space’ goes all dark and filthy and the distortion flies forth like barfed bile. The nine minute opener gradually unfolds and expands, with some quality effects-pedal led lead axe adding another layer to the Grief-esque heaviness before fading out in its own aftermath. The second track, ‘Professor Hans Lougarthe’, picks up the pace greatly, adding in some killer fret-board expertise and throws down some massive grooves in the process. ‘Humourless Meat Expert’ sounds almost like ‘Ghetto Angel’ era Sourvein; firing in gut-attacking heaviosity like a face-hugger shoving its embryo down your gullet. The final track, simply titled, ‘Levelling Up’, lasts just under four minutes, is the shortest of the EP and doesn’t mess about – hitting you with bin-liners full of distorted psychedelic riffing, immense low-end and plenty of cymbal-cracking drumming.
The band displays a good understanding of the genre; they use different tempos effectively and the songs are all tinged with a certain dramatic melancholy. Furthermore, the four tracks all have their own appeal even though they may not be imbued with originality. Indeed, this is more influence-worship than innovation, but this is doom/sludge – so nobody is expecting the reinvention of the wheel, here.
Once immersed, darkly grooving riffage wraps itself around your thoughts like sonic tentacles, but the drum-work is often rendered fairly weak by the production. Although in some instrumental bands the lack of vocals is barely noticeable, here it’s somewhat apparent. Other instrumental outfits such as 5ive, Serpent Throne and Bongripper all have a distinct sound which not only makes their music stand out, but would also be compromised by the presence of a vocalist. Here, however, the sound can feel like it’s missing the extra element a strong vocalist ( using either harsh or clean) could bring to the JHGOTD altar of dark worship. This is a quality starting point and it would be great to see the band build on their sound with either the addition of a vocalist or further honing and refining of their chosen style.
Label: Self Released
Scribed by: Pete Worth