Sunday, February 15, 2015

…tearing the fabric of space and time: BROTHERS OF THE SONIC CLOTH – ‘S/T’

Six years ago, when the Brothers of the Sonic Cloth ‘2009 Demo’ first began to circulate, I was excited at the prospect of a new release from Tad Doyle. The ‘2009 Demo’ hinted at darker, heavier soundscapes mired in the depths of sludge and doom compared to his defunct and much missed band, Tad. Fast-forward to 2015 and Brothers of the Sonic Cloth have finally made good on their initial promise and my anticipation, if anything, has grown. ‘Brothers of the Sonic Cloth’ is a lumbering beast of an album that is as atmospheric as it is heavy.

‘Brothers of the Sonic Cloth’ is sonic Ragnarök—a devastatingly heavy unfolding of events that is oftentimes cinematic in scope. Whether the music is actively destructive or hinting at the windswept desolation of a fallen empire it’s hard not to imagine Surtr raining down upon the gods and bringing forth the fire that engulfs the Earth. If this is the end result of waiting six years, I will gladly wait another six for the next installment.

For the most part, the band indulges in lengthier tunes allowing the songs to unfold and breathe with lives of their own. Despite this propensity for longer tracks, the album opens with unmatched urgency with “Lava,” a track that unlike the rest, would have sounded right at home on either ‘God’s Balls’ or ‘8-Way Santa.’ Peggy Doyle offers up a galloping bassline while Tad bellows and thrashes like a tranquilized frost giant. The riffs are catchy, heavy, and discordant. “Lava” is the perfect album opener.

“Empires of Dust” is the most lethargic tune of the lot, but don’t confuse lethargy with mediocrity or dullness. It’s a slow burn of monolithic riffs and tortured vocals that are seemingly swept in by the wind from the distance. While each track is a masterpiece in and of itself “I Am” stands out amongst the herd. While both “I Am” and “La Mano Poderosa” first appeared on the ‘2009 Demo’ neither track has lost their potency in the ensuing years. “I Am” is a sprawling track that, at times, brings to mind Neurosis or even Cult of Luna.

Unfortunately for record collectors there are two tracks that didn’t make the transition to vinyl, “The Immutable Path” and “Outro,” both of which fall more toward the atmospheric end of the spectrum. Tribal drums are at the center of “The Immutable Path” in accord with distantly droning organ and a mildly distorted bassline. The vocals are spoken word and belie the often barbaric howls of Doyle. The effect is haunting and chilling. “Outro” is a melancholic closing to the album consisting of a lone piano that eventually fades off into the distance.

‘Brothers of the Sonic Cloth’ is an exceptional album from start to finish. Last year Doyle impressed with his contributions to Lumbar’s excellent ‘The First and Last Days of Unwelcome’ (review HERE), but has set the bar even higher with his latest endeavor. While Tad has been busy behind the scenes with his Witch Ape Studio, the man has been absent for far too long as a songwriter and performer. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another six years to hear from Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, but if we do, hopefully it will be as impressive and vital as the band’s full-length debut…

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