AlgomA's debut album "Reclaimed By The Forest"! Released last week (October 8th) through the Malaysian independent label Deadbeat Media, this CD was self-recorded & produced at "Das Bunker" in nearby Garden River in April & May of this year, and was mixed and mastered by veteran local musician Mark Rand in Peterborough this summer. "Reclaimed By The Forest" features AlgomA's founding & current lineup, with Kevin Campbell on lead vocals & bass, Boyd Rendell (under his Darby Wigwaas stage name) on guitar & co-lead vocals on two songs, and Jamie "JV" Vincent on drums. Physical copies are available for purchase locally at The Rad Zone and through direct contact with band members for $10, while you can order CDs for a dollar extra via their BigCartel page. You can also get mp3 copies at their Bandcamp page for $8, and a wider North American distribution is planned for the future also.
Featuring 6 songs (which together run almost 42 minutes), each song below is linked to it's individual Bandcamp link, starting with the first track, "Bedsores"! Almost 10 minutes in length in it's own right, the song begins with a sample from the movie "Requiem For A Dream" before kicking into sludgy gear with crushing instrumentation that builds into a full heaviness that's intentionally slow paced, almost running 4 minutes before we hear the first vocals from the band itself after a brief softer bridge. Lyrically, the song is about an elderly woman in a nursing home with no living family or reason to live, points that Kevin emphasizes with clear hate and aggression vocally, with his singing reminding me of Nate Olp from Demiricous, albeit much slower. After the first verse, we also get some Black Sabbath-ish riffing and a slightly faster progression, which roughly maintains until the end.
"Fell Down A Well", again beginning with a sample, this time from an interview with Charles Manson. A much shorter song, this still has the sludgy goodness of "Bedsores", but seems to have more of an early impact with it's stop/start riffing, impactful drums, and intense yelling from Kevin in the first person about falling down a well (naturally) and his mental process after said fall. It's not as lyrically strong as it's preceding track, but the music is more varied and faster paced, with Darby's guitar riffs crushing in all forms, and he even joins in for some backing vocals late! Another very solid song that will please existing fans of AlgomA's doomy noise rock!
Third on this CD is the title track "Reclaimed By The Forest", another song from the first person, this time about an injured man facing mortality lying alone in the forest. Some could see this as a more vidid depiction of another local doom metal song about similar themes, Woods of Ypres' "Keeper of the Ledger", but this is it's own animal entirely. Again opening with a sample (from the movie "Gummo"), this song continues with the slow doom intensity of it's preceding tracks, almost taking on a very slow swing in the riffing, while Kevin's vocals actually sound slightly less coherent than on the preceding tracks, though given the situation that the song is presenting, the victim might be delirious and desperate for help. Even being one of the shorter songs on this album, this is actually more repetitive than one might expect, but the crushing slow metal is as constant and in-your-face as ever, and it'll definitely melt faces, if slowly!
Song #4 is "Tertiary Syphillis", which is the first on the album to lack a spoken word sample at it's beginning. Also from the first person, the lyrics concern a man's diagnosis and medical downfall after contracting the title disease. Slowly building with feedback for the first minute before Jamie's drumming helps bring in the full music, this is the first of two songs on the album to feature Darby on co-lead vocals, unleashing his high pitched screams that remind me of Alan Wells from Winkstinger at times (again, if much slower), and fans of BeeFMouTH will appreciate his singing here! This song features him and Kevin trading vocals (with the latter handling choruses, a rare occurence for this album), and while said choruses give this song a more conventional structure, this song has many differences from it's preceding tracks without sacrificing any of their integrity or established sound, and it's well worth checking out on it's own merits!
The penultimate and shortest song on "Reclaimed By The Forest" is next, entitled "Go On, Git!", which is also the first that lyrically isn't about a human waiting for or nearing death (instead, an unwanted dog who no one seems to care for.) Opening again with a sample (from the movie "The 'Burbs"), this is the fastest paced song on this album, and shares a lot in common with groove metal from it's guitar riffs, while still retaining the noise rock essence. Is it wrong to think of Down when hearing this at points? Kevin's lead vocals adapt well at a slightly faster speed, and it's a very solid track that will be likely most appealing to listeners who aren't major fans of sludge and doom metal, and may serve as an effective bridge into their more frequent songs!
"Extinct Volcanoes", which closes the album with it's longest song yet, running for over 11 minutes. The only song here that's not about first person anguish and despair, it's instead an indictment of lazy and inactive young people of today, who are compared to the extinct volcanoes of the title. Starting with a strange sample of layered people saying similar phrases that I honestly can't place, the song takes it's time setting the mood before launching into a slow and depressive cadence that has more of a minimalist quality than it's predecessors. The second & final song on the CD with Darby & Kevin sharing lead vocals, the sludgy call & response fits the song's subject matter more, with Jamie keeping up nicely on drums, but be warned, if you didn't like some of the drawn out stretches of "Bedsores", similar pacing recurs here. The song seems to end around 8:30 in, but the guys unleash into a faster paced and harder hitting section before closing the song & CD in their usual sludgy fashion, capping a solid debut!
So, what are my thoughts on AlgomA's debut album? Overall, it's a crushing first effort that captures their doom & sludge metal sound to great effect, and the guys are definitely in their element! Minimalistic, noisy, lyrically deperessive, and sometimes repetitious, but these are hallmarks of this style in many respects, and AlgomA deftly handle it all in a manner that lends itself quite nicely to live moshpits! Kevin Campbell's aggressive vocals (and, when heard, Darby Wigwaas' higher screams) suit the material nicely, and both deliver slow and well-paced guitar & bass riffs throughout, while Jamie Vincent's drumming was strong and without fail! While I am accustomed to and enjoy AlgomA's sound, I'll concede that it's not for everyone, and even I would have liked to have seen a guitar solo or some added experimentation, but once you've acquired this taste, you should love "Reclaimed By The Forest" and highlights like "Fell Down A Well", "Tertiary Syphillis", and the more casually accessible "Go On, Git!", so be sure to pick it up A.S.A.P. via the above links if you're up for some brutal sludge metal!
I hope you guys liked this month's CD review! So, what's coming next month? I'm not entirely sure yet, but it will definitely be a new album of some type. Many might be expecting The Bear Hunters' new album "Eternal Hibernation" to come next, as it will come out at their CD release concert at a venue to be confirmed on November 29th, but given that the month ends that same weekend, there might not be time to fit it in. If it doesn't make sense for next month (especially given the possibility of no new local metal or punk albums in December), things will likely fall to local indie/punk quintet Northwest's recent digital EP, which came out last month, and was admittedly held from our last two reviews on here partly because it isn't on CD yet (at least, not that I've heard.) As of right now, I'm leaning towards Northwest for next month and then The Bear Hunters to end 2014, but things can change, so stay tuned in any event for our next CD review next month!
That's all for today, but stay tuned for this weekend's concert previews and more later today! Thanks everyone!