APF Records have not, so quietly, amassed a roster of bands that are releasing some absolute bangers at the moment. 2020 may have kicked the live music scene in the nuts, but this year the label has put out into the world monstrous albums from the likes of Desert Storm, Battalions, Possessor and many more. The latest release is from London-based psychedelic stoner doom trio The Brothers Keg, the wondrous and epically titled Folklore, Myths and Legends of The Brothers Keg.
Sometimes an album has to be heard to be believed and there is simply no better summation than given by guitarist/vocalist Tom Hobson, who says of the album: ‘We imagined the record as akin to a fantasy film soundtrack, with cinematic voiceovers and a nod to sci-fi classics. Expect heavy riffing psyched-out sci-fi doomageddon. HP Lovecraft meets Queen’s Flash Gordon listening to Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds at the wrong speed smoking a medieval spliff dipped in poppers.’
Folklore… tells the tale of the titular Brothers, three mythical, ancient heroic characters doing battle against ancient terrors in a conceptual story littered with fantastical deeds and steeped in imagined legend. It’s so amazingly overblown it could almost be the soundtrack to the most metal game of D&D ever played. If Amon Amarth think they’re Vikings, The Brothers Keg are like Conan stomping a mud hole and walking it dry in Middle Earth.
Opening with a voiceover commanding all the gravitas any fantasy film could muster, Moorsmen sets the scene for this world into which you are about to be flung. Talks of ancient cracking stones, castles of glacial ice, terrible screams and of course the Brothers themselves, as the music builds behind it into a huge lolloping riff that conjures a slow motion ride through eerie mists. It’s deliciously overblown long before the raw, commanding vocals bark lyrics of pale white moons, woods, forests and evil.
Musically the band create a dense soup of grungy, fuzzy jam inspired doom. Upbeat in its nature, The Brothers Keg are as sonically bombastic as their unique vision. Combining driving guitars, psychedelic swirls, pyrotechnic like solos and huge shout-a-long choruses, the first track goes through moments that make you close your eyes in bliss and bang your head like you’re a being flung back and forth on a galloping steed.
Make no mistake, this is an album so ridiculous that it shouldn’t work and yet somehow The Brothers Keg have created something wholly captivating and unique..
The second proper track No Earthly Form is a more delicate affair, in terms of arrangement, the cavernous rising is balanced with a light choral style that lends to the sprawling prog atmosphere the band have created to tell their tales. Stylistically you could point to other bands that have utilised the same sort of style, but find it hard to nail a direct comparison. The closest I can look to hang my hat on is Sleestak in terms of channelling Sleep influenced space rock through a medieval filter.
Infusing every other track with a narrative voiceover lends itself as a vehicle to drive the story. On The Ice Melteth, the female intoned Lovecraft passages over trippy seventies style, almost Doors like experimentation, not only showcase the breadth of their musicianship, but sets up the segue into the anvil heavy Introducing The Brothers Keg, previously found on their two track EP, where dirty, lazy blues and clattering drums collide to underpin the identity of the band.
Folklore… is largely a rousing success, there are a few minor things I could nit-pick at, for instance Brahman loses focus slight for me in the middle, but then a thirteen minute track can, at times, do that and some of the sound levels between tracks didn’t seem quite even (unless this due to it being a promo copy?), but these are small things that are easily washed away by moments like the huge heady stomp of Castle Keg (also on the previous EP).
Recorded at Bear Bites Horse Studio in London (Green Lung, Terminal Cheesecake, Opium Lord) by producer Wayne Adams, the album can shake the speakers with its power and whisk you away to another world with the tender moments.
Make no mistake, this is an album so ridiculous that it shouldn’t work and yet somehow The Brothers Keg have created something wholly captivating and unique in terms of experience. Listening to Folklore… it is hard to imagine how you could fail to have fun listening to it, or adequately describe it to the uninitiated and therein lies its beauty, whilst making their debut bow for APF Records, they’ve set the bar incredibly high.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden