Bismuth – The Slow Dying of the Great Barrier Reef (Review)

Bismuth - The Slow Dying of the Great Barrier ReefThis is the second album from UK doom/drone band Bismuth.

Ever since first hearing The Eternal Marshes I’ve been a fan of what Bismuth do. Over the years they’ve continued to develop their bass-drum-synth-low-end-heavy-doom-assault-on-the-senses approach to music. Every release essentially sees them rising to new heights of both extremity and nuance, and this has now culminated in this new colossal album.

There’s only two tracks here. The first is the monolithic title track of the album and lasts 32 minutes. Following this we get a much shorter track that’s a mere 6 minutes in length.

Bismuth’s music is both spartan and layered. Somehow they manage to fill the minimalist droning evil of a band like Khanate with extra levels of oppressive nuance, despite still remaining relatively sparse with their delivery. The end result is very effective music, as the compositions unfold with an unexpected contrasting combination of heaviness and delicacy.

On The Slow Dying of the Great Barrier Reef Bismuth’s artistic expression has reached its apex, and the band sound at their most accomplished yet. Ethereal atmospherics and fragile soundscapes are joined by claustrophobic heaviness and needle-thin screams as the sprawling epic title track unfolds. The music really draws you in and holds you close, and Bismuth have never felt this up close and personal before. It’s an extremely compelling listen, and so very easy to get lost in. The band’s evocative performance and songwriting carries you through the playing time like it was nothing, and before you know it the album is over and you feel drained, empty, and guilty inside.

The band’s use of pace and shading is exquisitely realised on this release, and the decaying, degrading world that they portray with their music is both subtle and sharp. It’s horrific and sad at the same time, and effectively portrays its tragic and unnecessarily inevitable subject matter with the accuracy of a scalpel. Highly atmospheric and affecting at all times, The Slow Dying of the Great Barrier Reef should be required listening for anyone that believes drone music can’t adequately get across real emotion and feeling.

After the main feast, we get dessert – Weltschmerz. This is essentially a companion piece to the first track, but sounds angry, raging, and accusatory by comparison. It’s heavy, crushing, and helps drive home the horror of the subject matter.

This is the best work that Bismuth have done so far. If you like your music slow, atmospheric, and emotive, then this is very much for you.

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