2012 has already witnessed the release of several excellent albums and EPs from both high-profile artists and relative unknowns with many more releases lingering on the horizon. Five-piece Rhode Island doom upstarts Balam (bay.lum.) have not only recorded and released via their Bandcamp page a demo of high-quality material not witnessed since Pallbearer’s excellent ‘2010 demo’, but they have unleashed a collection of three tracks that can easily hold their own amongst the year’s very best. Balam play a hybrid of progressive and traditional doom metal with a psychedelic sheen. The songs gracefully ebb and flow between hulking doom-metal plod, or blissful stoned-out grooves somewhere between Revelation and The Wandering Midget. Production-wise the demo is extremely well produced and these three tracks sound as if they could have come straight from the final mix of a studio album.
“Soul Scour” opens the demo in Yob-like fashion with a lone strummed guitar which is innocuously reduced to a whisper before catapulting into one of the catchiest grooves played this year. The bass really stands out on this tune and effortlessly carries the rest of the instrumentation. “Dark Door” is a slow-burner that is anchored by patient, yet weary drumming layered with acid-tinged lead guitar and emotive vocals. At just over twelve minutes “Dark Door” is the longest track on the demo, but it is a complex composition of lumbering doom that evolves into a jam that closes out like some of Dead Meadow’s trippier tunes. “The Followed” tops off the demo in brilliant fashion. What begins with another exercise in patience evolves into some of the demo’s most memorable riffing and up-beat tempos.
Balam are clearly well versed in the dark arts of doom metal. Upon close inspection many of their influences are easily discernible, but the band has studied wisely and forged their own unique sonic identity. This is an excellent demo and it should create quite a buzz in the metal underground. Doom aficionados should hear this release and eagerly anticipate further output from this band. Download the demo from the band’s Bandcamp page.
Words: Steve Miller
(Originally published at Doommantia)