Review: Marc Urselli’s SteppenDoom

Open up and let it grab you by the throat. This album requires listening with non-prejudiced ears in order to witness the beauty of ancient magic and modern power creating something new, yet timeless. SteppenDoom is an exciting new project from Marc Urselli which sees the producer bringing together musicians from the doom metal world with legendary indigenous vocalists displaying ancient throat singing traditions from all over the planet.

Marc Urselli's SteppenDoom

On the opener, Etugen Eke And Od Ana, Matt Pike is at his most meditative, delivering layer upon layer of dirt, not in the pounding style of High On Fire or Sleep, but dishing out an enchanting non-melody, paired with the most epic of throat displays by Batzorig Vaanchig ‘Zorigoo’. Garuda Khuresh begins with a more immediate kick and many layers of vocals by Huun-Huur-Tu. Aaron Aedy’s Paradise Lost tones are all present in this track, while the percussion adds some intense, otherworldly sounds.

Marc Urselli details, ‘Throat singing, or overtone singing, is the ancient folk singing technique from Mongolia, Tuva, and Siberia. Mongolians often sing around the campfire with lyrics about Mother Earth, animals and the elements in nature.’ The styles of throat singing featured here hail from all these distant corners of the Earth, and so they are displaying an equally wide range of traditions, each with its own distinct features. It’s one of the accomplishments of this collection of tracks that it manages to blend in so many different styles into a cohesive sound.

On Agloolik Igaluk, the link between throat singing and nature seems very palpable, even as it clashes with modern extremity, featuring Johannes Persson of Cult Of Luna. Tanya Tagaq’s style of throat singing is incredible, thriving in the black atmosphere created over its eight-and-a-half-minute run time. You better settle in for a scary ride.

Tamag And Ocmah pairs an amazing performance by Albert Kuvezin of Yat-Kha, contributing some of the most heavy guttural vocals in the album, merging with the profound sounds created by Steve Von Till. The track starts with sparse instrumental sounds imitating a natural environment, and then takes off with such a light touch you barely even notice when a riff has started.

This album is fantastic, uniquely capable of drawing out a solemn, meditative mood, built on distortion and fuzz…

Imdugud In Shambhala takes a different turn towards lands of synth magic by Massimo Pupillo of Zu, combined with the Alash Ensemble, a full set of throats creating a natural atmosphere of great beauty. This song shows off the power of electronic sounds with these ancient and modern vocal stylings. The percussion by Christopher Juul of Heilung sets the stage for a trance inducing effect.

Peri To Ela Guren brings focus to Erka’s Erdenebat Baatar’s voice on a slow, heavy, dirge-y stage, crafted through the creative use of vocal layers with Mr. Bungle’s Trey Spruance doing his thing in another of the more synth heavy tracks. Sedna And Eliduc combines three vocals, one male and two female, by Utelo, Karen Panigoniak and Maria Illungiayok, in another particular combination of throat singing styles and sounds, in collusion with the doom guitar work of Lori S. of Acid King.

A-dkar Theg Pa is a real powerhouse, featuring Dave Chandler of Saint Vitus, Norman Westberg of Swans, and Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich of The Obsessed adding in droning guitar sounds to the percussion of Anders Moller of Ulver, the crucial sounds of Vegard Kleftaas Sleipnes and Tor Harald, and the droning vocals of Alexey Tegin.

This album is fantastic, uniquely capable of drawing out a solemn, meditative mood, built on distortion and fuzz. It was produced, recorded and mixed by mastermind multi-instrumentalist Marc Urselli at EastSide Sound, New York City, and mastered by Maor Applebaum, with cover art by Joshua Wilkinson, displaying a proud rider of the steppes, in full regalia and parade of tradition.

In the vein of these ancient ways of resistance and freedom, let’s look forward to more indigenous doom coming to be, as part of a necessary call to take up the existential cause of recovering our links to the natural world.

Label: Magnetic Eye Records
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Goro Riffs