Do you hear that hot, liquid sound barely thirty seconds into “Shades of Blue” by Pale Divine? Fuzz bass. Glorious. Molten. Like the center of an Oreo or insert any other appropriately-stuffed snack. That sound, to me, is the essence of classic doom, a sound Pale Divine have mastered brothers and sisters.
We love to talk about Iommi. Iron Man. Paranoid. Pentatonic blues and diabolous in musica. Yes, it’s the cornerstone of our genre, but it’s not what made Sabbath holy. Not on its own anyway.
“N.I.B.” Shit-hot finger-pickin’. The filling in the guitar riff’s space. These are the bequeathments of Geezer goddamn Butler, and if you don’t have them you do not doom, as far as I am concerned.
Pale Divine? They doom. They have for the past quarter of a century, but after a six-year wait, the power trio’s self-titled fifth album serves as a potent reminder that all the gigantic rigs and distortion pedals in the world don’t mean shit next to songwriting, playing, and some real soulful vocals.
At eight minutes long, “Shades of Blue” still feels concise. It winds down before it even feels like it’s gotten started. It makes me want to smash that play button again. Pretty much every tune on Pale Divine does. Just because the year is reaching its end doesn’t mean you’ve had enough doom … yet.
Pale Divine is out on November 23 via Shadow Kingdom. Pre-order it on Bandcamp here.