After being blown away by British blackened sludge metallers Bast’s fantastic performance supporting Conan at the Electrowerkz last month, I had to pick up their début album Spectres after the show. It’s a really great album, atmospheric, crushing and incredibly well put together.
Bast have been together since 2008, so its taken them 6 years to unleash their debut album, and it shows from the music that they’ve been together such a long time, there’s a really great chemistry in the band. Each song it really well put together, and at an average of more than nine minutes in length, there is a great flow to each song, Bast’s strength is their ability to incorporate many brilliant ideas seamlessly. There’s the crushing walls of riff laden sludge, which are heavy and murky, creating a dank, dark atmosphere, ripping sections of fast, triumphant atmospheric black metal reminiscent of Winterfylleth, as well as the laid back, hypnotic sounding post-rock influenced sections, with layers of guitar effects creating an unsettling atmosphere. Each idea flows so incredibly well into the next, and all these pieces fit together into such a complete sound, thanks to excellent songcraft. The band have duel vocals, with guitarist Craig Bryant delivering a roaring bellow similar to Sleep’s Al Cisneros, while drummer Jon Lee rasps excellently in true black metal style, and the interplay of their styles throughout the album works well. The sheer variety and quality of the guitar playing through this album is staggering, with the crushing doomy riffs, black metal stylings, and post-rock experimentalism all coming across as effortlessly brilliant, I’m sure a lot of guitarists would love to play just the one style so well, let alone this range of playing and how it all fits together so well. Jon Lee’s drumming really drives the album along, pummelling away at the skins, with an excellent sense of rhythm and creativity, while the rumbling bass of Gavin Thomas adds another thick crushing layer to the already dense sound. Chris Fielding of Conan produces the album, and does a stunning job with the atmosphere Bast bring to the table.
Title track Spectres is an absolutely beast, with excellent riffs, from fast and bouncy to slow and crushing, demanding you to bang your head, before the pace changes and we’re treated to a softer section of guitar led ambience, before another dose of heavy riffcraft pummels your head in. Psychonauts is incredible, an instrumental just under twelve minutes in length that builds so well from start to finish, with a dense thick guitar sound delivering all manner of excellent riffs, and with tremendously creative drumming, the thundering bass really rounds out the sound. It’s psychedelic, yet crushing and is so incredibly well structured that at twelve minutes it still doesn’t feel half that length. Final track Outside the Circles of Time begins with a mellow psychedelic atmosphere with some really melodic guitar playing, before descending into a maelstrom of crushingly heavy guitar riffs with Craig bellowing through fantastically, before picking up the pace a tad with some excellent mid paced wah laced riffs, before really kicking off into a fast, aggressive almost groovy black metal section, with Jon and Craig sharing vocal duties in brilliant fashion. The solo near the end is epic and triumphant, before fading out leaving you almost in awe of what you’ve just heard. THIS is how you build a song.
Don’t neglect to listen to Bast’s debut album, it’s really unique, with their combination of black metal, sludge, psychedelia and post rock being really something else. With such a good debut album, and the way they recreate their crushing and hypnotic atmospheres when they play live, London’s Bast are a band to watch out for.