Full Length, Self-released / Holy Mountain Printing
January 15th, 2013
Genre: Sludge/Doom Metal
Brooding and fomenting in Ontario for years amongst different projects apparently, three young gentlemen come together and former Oxtongue in 2012, finally releasing this slab of doom to the public at the beginning of this year. I think fans of doom will find something to enjoy in these friends heaping their sounds into the fray, and you can thank Severed Heads Open Minds for illuminating Where The Light Is Mute.
Oxtongue are new to the game but there's no denying Where The Light Is Mute is a half hour choleric ache, down-tuned and pavement splitting in three songs mired in darkness. There seems to be a theme flowing through the tracks but I do not have lyrics so I can't confirm; just going by the song titles. There's definitely some classic sludge influence that goes alone with the desolate semi-funeral doom acts like Atriarch and Bell Witch (you can hear it in the ending progressions of several tracks here), and for a self release the production is pretty damn good. The material is even better: keeping shit simple with dour sludge tonnage that sounds like it comes from veterans.
"Humanity: Born In The Way Of Eternal Greif" is the longest clocking in at just under 15 minutes. It's a clean chord driven procession of gloom for its entirety. The thundering, trudging drums for the entire opening three minutes are like sledgehammers wedging iron into stone, later taking a more measured pace once the bass guitar demolishes the build ambiance wonderfully. The only vocals are first heard as a faint whisper in the edge of an oceanic rift of silence between tom strikes and thick plucks — then a titanic upheaval is ushered in as the callous roars flood with the distortion, a return that crumbles all walls in its wake.
At this point it's a merciless steamrolling and it's getting clearer that while supposedly young, all three members are well versed in expressing sinister energies through foul trudging. After that plowing over the second half transitions to a sludgy build, aided at first with low, clean ceremonious chants but when the explosion comes the growls do too, along with another pancaking passage.
Actually following this the final legs of this song give me feelings of familiarity. My guess is it's close to the sound of the long defunct UK sludge band Capricorns' self-titled demo (a favorite gem of mine). The rhythm is totally reminiscent of that, but slowed and aided by modulated effects, a second lead of drowned tremolo harmony is also supporting it. That is not the end however: there's one final jaunt through the sludge with a tremendous groove, wallowing in crashing cymbals and heavy fuzz. Fucking heavy man and a promising start to the record.
Then we have "Anguish: Abide With Suffering" which takes that kind of structure heard at the tail end of the first track and runs with it for a bit before returning to a agonizing slither, circling a dark pit and slowly but surly returning to a midpaced sludge ritual. Oxtongue then bring shit back up to catastrophic heaviness, adding breaks in their slams to plam mute and moan chants into the gloomy air; a great section. There's a return to the drag for the down ramp of this track that gets progressively louder on the percussive end onyl to spike back up suddenly for the final two minutes back into that deadly groove.
The feedback and cymbal frenzy that leads from the last track into the last one, "Cessastion: The Shade Rapes Nativity", settles into a bassy, ebbying feedback with only cymbals and snare/kicks keeping the rumble company; distant shouting can be heard. The kick-in comes abruptly again and we're swept into a series of slow but powerful dirges. And one evolves into an even more evil section that grinds the listener into a pulp — it drops out again like the intro for just drums and vocals, a frightening and desolate moment before the hammer blows return in earnest. Again in the last few minutes a fantastic sludge groove bursts forth through a bass solo that kills. This climax is fucking captivating.
Another excellent doom act from the east. If you like shit like Bell Witch, Sound Asleep, Capricorns, Batillus, Haggatha, or good sludge and doom in general then I suspect you'll want to check this record out. Outside of not being heart-stoppingly innovative (which isn't a real complaint in most contexts) there's really nothing to complain about. Just turn the lights down and the volume up, and prepare to be compressed in 31 minutes.
Where The Light Is Mute will soon be available via Holy Mountain Printing on limited vinyl (only 300 pressed) but was just recently pressed and sold in test-press form of which I was lucky enough to procure one of the five available (of 11 pressed). You can also stream it on bandcamp and they've made it available as a mediafire link in the sidebar there as well. Updates over yonder if you're into that.