Tarlung – Beyond the Black Pyramid (Review)

TarlungTarlung are an Austrian doom/sludge/stoner band and this is their second album.

This is a powerful mix of stoner, sludge and doom. Lasting over 66 minutes, the band crawl and slither their way through the playing time with gritty heaviness and slothful aggression.

Slow, heavy, relentless; this is music that lives to execute huge monolithic riffs, following up with deep growling vocals that sound as if they’re going to eat you. Southern-styled sludge metal with deathgrowls? Works for me. Think a less bleak and harrowing Primitive Man mixed into a base made of bits of Dopethrone, Electric Wizard, and stoner rock.

Although Beyond the Black Pyramid is undoubtedly full of misery, negativity, emotional hardship, and dark emotions, this is actually an album that uses light and shade well across its playing time. These tracks aren’t one-dimensional hate-fests, and instead have moments of brightness and levity sewn into the riffs, presumably by a rogue surgeon of some sort who couldn’t handle something that at its very core probably wants to be quite unrelentingly bleak.

So yes, this is where the stoner side of the band comes in really – this aspect of the band’s music prevents the downbeat doom and nihilistic sludge from going overboard. It adds an energetic splash of vibrancy to the guitars, helping them to acquire their own sense of, (limited), hope against the backdrop of despair and loss.

This sense of warring sides of the band, with the airier nature of the stoner influences holding back the doom/sludge ones, is somewhat of a defining nature of Tarlung’s music. Of course, the negativity certainly wins many battles over the course of the playing time, sometimes swamping things entirely, but overall it’s deadlock; this fine balance probably goes a long way towards explaining why Beyond the Black Pyramid is so enjoyable.

When it comes to the vocals, however, it’s a different matter. Here the darker side of the band won the war a long time ago; there’s no lightness or shading to these growls. To be honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way, either.

I very much enjoyed this, and Beyond the Black Pyramid is a strong album with a lot to offer.


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