I’ve often contemplated the innocent way people experience music who aren’t knowledgeable about the instruments and how it’s made, like young children. I recall as a youth, before I knew as much about what sounds guitars and drums can make, getting all kinds of cool mental pictures from the sounds in music. I didn’t always have just the mundane perception of a guitar or a drum; sounds made by instruments would instead give me mental images of dust blowing across a desert, a wheel of fortune spinning, a steel foundry staffed by monkeys. I miss that experience and kinda feel it’s a more pure perception of music.
I actually get some of that feeling back when listening to Descent. The imagery conjured up by the sounds is so strong that even while consciously I know and recognize that I’m hearing guitars, drums, vocals, pianos, it adds up to more than that. Bloodiest conjure up a world here and I find myself very much in it, like my ten-year-old self hearing Yes’s Fragile for the first time, instead of standing outside analyzing it. That’s a very difficult place to get a jaded old music nerd like myself to, and it’s very special.
Descent is yet another feather in the cap of the hyper-active Bruce Lamont, in a string of startlingly original and artistic albums of heavy music he’s had his hands in these past few years, and even raising the bar another notch or two. By now he’s gone far above and beyond the role he first became known for as the saxophone-wielding lead vocalist of brainy avant-metal freaks Yakuza. The mood of Descent continues in the hypnotic, haunted vein Yakuza started to incorporate on Of Seismic Consequence and that Bruce then expanded on with his solo release Feral Songs For The Epic Decline. This band and this album are much more than a Bruce Lamont project, however: this bears the mark of an intensely collaborative, collective development, every person in on it committed 150%.
The closest reference point that comes to mind is Swans circa The Great Annihilator but more metallic and on a much more abstract, mystical trip. There’s the epic sweep of post-rock but without being hemmed in by the predictable, overused build-build-build-crash progression. It’s hypnotic, symphonic, and exotic, repetitive without repetitious, with a tendency for classical-like intricacy in the quieter sections and numerous moments of intense melodicism. Lamont rages like a mad shaman as is his wont. Overall it’s the music of the holiday ritual dances of spectres existing on another plane, inhabiting an ancient forest where it is eternally midnight.
Bloodiest have created something dark, heavy, and truly frightening and beautiful here that transcends boundaries of metal or rock music, is almost beyond mere music itself. I’ve never heard anything quite like it and who knows if we ever will again.