Sixteen-minute songs present a challenge for bands who compose them, because they present a challenge for listeners. Long attention spans are not exactly a hallmark of modern culture or society. But when a band succeed in holding their listeners’ attention for songs of such length, the experience can be even more rewarding than songs of more conventional duration. And that’s what the Irish band Soothsayer have done on the song we’re about to premiere for you. Its name is “Umpire” and it appears on Soothsayer’s new album At This Great Depth, which will be released on December 30 by Transcending Obscurity Records.
This is the band’s second release, following their 2015 debut The Soothsayer. It consists of two songs, of which “Umpire” is the first; the second, which is not as long, is “Locusts and Moths”.
Soothsayer take their time building the “Umpire” edifice, building slowly from slow chords that ring like funeral bells and guitar notes that are both abrasive and chiming. Even when the bass and drums come in, the music is ponderous and heavy, but that pattern of dissonant notes continues, sinking ever more deeply into the listener’s consciousness.
A buzzing riff surfaces and the guitarists morph those dissonant patterns into a bleak, eerie melody with a strangely compelling allure, one that evokes mental images of psychoactive vapors wafting beneath the vault of a crypt. Without breaking the spell, the drums begin to tumble rapidly, the riffing becoming more intense, and the lead more serpentine and sinister. You’re almost seven minutes in before the vocals really assert themselves — high, raw howls and cries of desperate desolation.
The song continues to ebb and flow, with the band’s two guitarists interacting to deal out bereft but intoxicating melodies and walls and whirlwinds of abrasive, rushing sound. From beginning to end, Soothsayer create an evocative and atmospheric monolith of doom/sludge that manages to be both massive and earthy and intangible, fleeting, and ghostly — both spine-shaking and hallucinatory. It’s a long trip that’s well worth taking.
At This Great Depth is available for pre-order now — digitally, on a four-panel digipak CD (with a free badge), and in a bundle that includes the CD, the badge, a poster, and a shirt:
To pre-order, go here: