My knowledge of Bergen, Norway is purely based around it being a huge part of black metal history and that SK Brann are the city’s premier football club….So I jumped at the chance to check out some new music from the countries second biggest city (another fact!). Jokes aside, Bergen is beautiful and home to numerous fantastic bands, including fuzzed out doom merchants Bismarck whose new record Oneiromancer was released via Apollon Records on the 17th April.
Bismarck formed back in 2015 and Oneiromancer is their second full length record after 2018’s Urkraft. They play doom and they play it heavy, dissonant and with a big ol’ spoonful of sludge. It’s a thing of beauty. The record has some serious pedigree associated with it due to it being produced by Chris Fielding of British doom masters Conan. Chris has also been involved with huge acts within the genre like Electric Wizard and Slomatics, so it’s easy to get pretty excited about this record.
The album opens with Tahaghghogh Resalat, an experimental journey that uses sounds from the Middle East alongside chanting, traditional instrumentation and some droned out guitar in the background. It’s a great start to the record and really sets the atmosphere. It slowly builds into the second, and title track Oneiromancer which surprisingly kicks off with a low-fi death metal section including blast beats and deep for-boding vocals. Personally, I’m immediately hooked and before I know it Bismarck eviscerate me with a mammoth doom riff that’s thicker than your grandmas gravy. Accompanied by commanding, but low tempo drums, that are going to be a continual theme throughout the record and sums up their overall sound. The track continues into a section reminiscent of the genre defining band Isis, that is cleverly interwoven with well placed ambient sounds, which bind together to build tension and atmosphere.
The album breaks back into the colossal fuzzed out riffs that could uproot a redwood alongside an incredible bass tone that is tuned so low it’s almost matches my IQ! The vocals remind me of a lower register Johannes from Cult of Luna. They’ve got that perfect caustic quality to them and are well produced. You can hear every single lyric although, personally, I would have like them a little higher in the mix. The Seer is the highlight of the record for me, a lower tempo but still just as pummeling so you might want to get those neck braces ready. The track seems to get deeper and deeper and is a real gut punch to have in the middle of the record. The three minute mark of The Seer hits this almost drone like section, which is just perfect.
Oneiromancer is an uncompromising doom record that will keep you gripped from the start to finish…
Hara is a change of pace and starts off more melancholy with wonderful clean vocals, at points almost whispered or retched, perfectly setting the morose atmosphere of the track. It’s not long before that monolithic riffing is back to blow away the last few hairs on my poor balding head; it even moves to this mid paced riff that wouldn’t be far removed from a crust track…..just perfect.
The album finishes with Khthon, a seven minute long post-metal ride including more clean vocals that are delivered brilliantly by Torstein alongside more of the ambient sounds and stoner rock elements that we all love, building to a pretty solid end to the record. Shout out to Vaderetro for the incredible artwork that adorns this record. I love it when artwork matches the tone of a record.
Oneiromancer is an uncompromising doom record that will keep you gripped from the start to finish. It’s refreshing to hear some different sounds entwined with what we usually associate with the doom genre. The Middle Eastern influences really make the record. The band sound at their best and I think this a clear step up from 2018’s Urkraft, I genuinely think this is a record that will please a lot of people and it’s something I’ll certainly be returning to.
Scribed by: Matt Alexander