Old Witch are from Canada and Keeper are from the US. Both play Doom. This is their split, containing 58 minutes of crawling, evil music.
Old Witch start us off with their half of the split. Their take on Doom is dirty, nasty and filled with malevolent hatred.
Taking the template as laid down by Khanate, Old Witch proceed to bury this in the soil for a thousand years before digging it up and slowly flaying it alive.
The slow, thoughtful assault of their earthy-sounding Doom combines at once an unforced naturalism and a feeling of urban decay and darkness. The minimalistic Khanate-style approach is enhanced with eerie melodies and textured nihilism that has shades of Funeral Doom.
Other apt comparisons would be the murky Sludge of Culted, only without the Blackened elements, or the marathon of filth that is Venowl, only with more of an emotive presence.
At any rate, this is my first encounter with Old Witch and they have turned out to be an extremely gratify proposition. Their name held a lot of promise as it pretty much evoked images right from the off that gave me high expectations of their sound. I have not been disappointed.
After the grim majesty of Old Witch, many bands would be found wanting. Thankfully, Keeper are not just any old band. Unlike Old Witch I’m already a firm fan of Keeper’s crushing Doom from their recent split with Sea Bastard and their EP The Space Between Your Teeth.
Keeper are heavier than Old Witch and sound like an avalanche of Sludge Metal descending from a great height to destroy anything it lands on.
The acerbic vocals always provide a wonderfully acidic focal point that the guitars seem to congregate around as if feeding off them.
Maybe it’s keeping company with Old Witch, but Keeper sound blacker and darker on this release. The shining, contemplative Post-Metal side of their style is still present and correct, but even this sounds more villainous than usual.
These two songs are just as impressive as I’ve come to expect from Keeper and the entire split, almost an hour of Doom, is a fantastic release that I can’t recommend highly enough.
Here they treat us to two tracks of ultra-heavy Doom that snarls and crushes yet also has a contemplative side.
The vocals are so serrated that this EP should come with a health warning. Their scathing assault is a reminder of how truly harsh screamed vocals can sound from the right singer.
The music is down-beat Doom which is slow enough to cast a grim shadow where it falls but energetic enough to keep a beat to. Although they specialise in the heavier side of Doom, the songs also carry a multitude of melodies through these tumultuous waters. Said melodies are largely low-key affairs content to hide just below the heavier rhythms, although this is not always the case.
The band’s more nuanced side manifests through these streaks of melodic colour and also through some Isis/Cult of Luna-esque Post-Metal moments.
The entire package is rounded off with a strong sound that accentuates all of the band’s strengths, leaving them free to pursue the music through to its logical conclusion.
Keeper have released a devastating calling card with their new EP, one that will surely, and rightfully, gain them many accolades.
Keeper are from the US and Sea Bastard are from the UK. Both bands play Doom and contribute a single track to this split.
Keeper are up first with 777, clocking in at almost 14 minutes.
777 is crushingly repetitive Sludge Doom with acerbic, toxic screams that tear through the meaty guitars like a serrated blade through flesh.
This is a song that glorifies the heavy riff, slows it down and then makes it even thicker than normal through some form of arcane jiggery-pokery. Yes, that’s the term.
Imagine Khanate if they had the structure of Electric Wizard. Agonizingly delectable.
Uncompromisingly bleak, Keeper show that they mean business and easily have what it takes to join the big leagues of filthy, hateful Doom.
The wonderfully named Sea Bastard are next with Astral Rebirth, which is almost 21 minutes long.
Astral Rebirth is another lumbering behemoth of a song. Long, slow and heavy; Sea Bastard have come to flatten everything.
Imagine Bongripper if they had deep growling/high screaming vocals and you’ll be in the general area.
This is another song that is relentlessly heavy and is crushingly repetitive; flowing tsunamis of heavy guitars seem to repeatedly peak and crash on the listener. The Doom is huge and we love it this way.
Not content with just playing slow, the pace does pick up but the feeling of being compressed down by an immense weight never leaves. Heaviness is in their DNA.
Both bands to an excellent job of their time on this split and if you’re looking for a good introduction to some top quality Doom then look no further.