This is me doing something I should have done long ago. The story begins in May 2011, when my former NCS comrade IntoTheDarkness alerted me to the existence of a band called Bewilderbiest, which was sufficiently intriguing that I promptly wrote this post about them. Despite the absence of any music at that time, the news was intriguing because the band included Sacha Dunable (Intronaut, Graviton), Charles Elliott (Abysmal Dawn), Derek Rydquist (ex-The Faceless), and Derek Donley (National Sunday Law, Graviton).
Later I read that the band had changed their name to Bereft and had signed with The End Records to release an album called Leichenhaus (which is the German word for “mortuary”). Later still, I heard a song from the album called “Withered Efflorescence”, which really made an impact. Even later still, MetalSucks premiered another song called “The Coldest Orchestra”, which the band have now added to their Facebook song-player. More impact.
So I decided it was really time to say something at NCS about the band and the music. The first thing to understand about the music is that it’s very different from anything you may have heard by Intronaut, Graviton, or Abysmal Dawn. Here’s Sacha Dunable’s explanation of the band’s origins (from that MetalSucks post):
“Back in 2008, around the time Intronaut’s Prehistoricisms was released, I was unemployed for about four months, and had very little to do with myself besides stay home and write music all day. One thing I did to stay semi-productive was sit in my room and record music for a few fictitious one-man bands. The only one that wasn’t completely embarrassing was basically me ripping off a bunch of old doom metal records that I used to be obsessed with. Four years later, I decided to get some friends together and make it into what is now Bereft.”
That sounds very casual, very oft-hand . . . sitting around the house with nothing else to do . . . ripping off old doom records . . . grabbing some friends and doing some recording. Either there’s a lot of humility in those words, or he’s just embarrassingly talented (and I’m voting for the latter), because Bereft’s music is really good.
The intro to “Withered Efflorescence” is so damned fine — absolutely massive bass, drums, and guitar pounding slowly, and then giving way briefly to an acoustic melody. Then the groaning, pounding, sludgy weight of the song comes falling down again like a spilling vat of tar. The uber-deep harsh roaring and the higher-pitched howling combine in a way that evokes images of a black pit of souls in which all hope has been abandoned. Yet amidst all the funereal gloom is a melancholy melody that sticks like glue.
“The Coldest Orchestra” really enhanced my interest in the album; it’s an indication that the music will not be same-y all the way through. The synthesizer-plus-guitar intro to this one sets the tone, paving the way to an extended howl that erects the hairs on the back of the neck. Again, the band pull off the trickle of combining a memorable melody with concrete-cracking weight, and the swirling guitar interludes create a fascinating ambience.
If every now and then you like to step off into a slo-mo world of glacially heaving boulders and the music of wraiths singing through pitch-black murk, check out these two songs.
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“The Coldest Orchestra”
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