Denver doom/sludge duo wax ecstatic, cowboy-style
dB rating: 8/10
Release Date: April 7, 2017
Anybody with doubts about how thoroughly a capable practitioner can marry elements of doom metal and spaghetti Western music might want to check out the proto-doom interlude in “Man with a Harmonica Theme” from Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack for Sergio Leone’s 1968 masterpiece, Once Upon a Time in the West. Devil knows, Grant Netzorg has. In the Company of Serpents’ co-founding guitarist and vocalist’s understanding of both kinds of music is such that he essentially turns two things into one on the duo’s third full-length. While Morricone’s work and Black Sabbath serve as Ain-Soph Aur’s most audible points of departure, they’re not alone. For one, the album’s overarching lyrical theme involves self-annihilation/realization/transcendence using the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life (specifically the Sephirot that make up the “Middle Pillar”). It’s an old Golden Dawn ritual with parallels in Tantra, but a topic fairly new to both the doom/sludge and horse opera worlds. For another, Netzorg and drummer Joseph Weller Myer wield a complete and complex command of every Swans/Neur-isis trick known to humanity—to the extent that they excel at inventing their own—as on doom waltz (dudes are big on 3/4 and 6/8 time) “Crucible,” when Netzorg eventually lays a deliciously fucked, tremolo-picked counter-melody over the song’s principle riff, Myer’s nuanced rhythmic foundation and the undulating caustic rumble that serves as one of the album’s recurring textural components. Netzorg’s deftness at incorporating a variety of stringed acoustic instruments only serves to make the final outcome that much richer.
— Rod Smith
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