I’ll admit that I tend to get a little bit bogged down in the details from time to time. It’s part of my job, and part of who I am, so sometimes I can’t help it. As a music theorist I’m always trying to dig deeper into the function of every single note and looking for patterns and so on and so forth.
Sometimes, though, it’s just good to listen to some instrumental sludge/doom/stoner metal to really take my mind off of all the other music that I should be thinking about. I think that part of what allows me to do this is the kraut-rock-ish plodding of the low, droning, open strings, that sort of lulls me into a calmer state of being. One wouldn’t normally think of doom metal as being particularly relaxing, but then again I’m not exactly the gold standard of normativity either.
That timbre, the thick crunch of a guitar’s wound strings processed through about 10 Marshall stacks with the bass doubling everything an octave below, that’s what it’s all about with this music. That and the riffs. Something about it, and even after years of trying I’m still not able to figure out exactly what it is that does this, but it feels as though not just the music is going in slow motion, but all life around the music is going in slow motion. That definitely makes the genre worthy of the label.
The way I see it, all stoner metal/riff rock starts with Black Sabbath. It’s basically proto-metal, but it started out nearly fully formed. Take a riff, smother it in thick distortion and play it until your fingers bleed. Over and over and over again. Poland’s stoner/doom metal Belzebong has that thick crunch down. I think the guitars are tuned down to what sounds like a C, though to be honest it is kind of difficult to discern pitch when things get so low, and then put on top of that the distortion and the fact that the chords are all root-fifth-octave. Things get muddy. The track, “Dungeon Vultures,” doesn’t cover too much territory across its 14 minutes, but I’m definitely not complaining. Some artists make 5 minutes seem like an eternity, but this 14 minutes goes by, I wouldn’t say quickly, but it certainly doesn’t feel like nearly an entire album side. “Dungeon Vultures” was recorded last year, and is limited to only 500 copies, there are still some available Check out the track below.
After enjoying your 14 minutes of dirge and distortion, you can pick yourself up again with the closer-to-standard-tuning, comparatively swinging and bluesy riff-rocker “Blind Seer” by Green & Wood. This one’s a little more in the realm of a standard tune: under 5 minutes and with sneering vocals. I still can’t shake the feeling that, though not as sludgy, or doom-y, that an air of kraut-rock sensibility still exists. We’re reminded of the Black Sabbath connection at about the 2:40 mark, as the song chugs into a very Tony Iommi-esque breakdown. You can check that one out below.
“Blind Seer” appears on Green & Wood’s 2011 release “Devil’s Plan.” It seems like it’s a bit hard to find, but there are a couple copies floating around if you want them.
Belzebong is on tour throughout Europe right now. Dates can be found at their bandcamp.