Sea Of Bones – The Harvest

Sea Of Bones is a funeral doom band at heart; one that employs a very different aesthetic and sonic quality than most funeral doom bands, but still part of the style nonetheless. Imagine if one of those frequently lauded post-metal bands like Isis or Pelican played funeral doom; that’s the sort of thing that Sea Of Bones does. So while the sound of the music here is perhaps slightly more accessible than the majority of funeral doom, this still has more in common with Tyranny than it does Red Sparowes.

Sea Of Bones plays a sludgy variety of funeral doom that reminds me of cult French artist Monarch. Of course, Sea Of Bones is a lot more kinetic than Monarch; they don’t drone nearly as constantly and repetitively as that band, and the music feels less like drowning in a swamp than them. There’s more variety here, probably virtue of the post-metal influence, and it is well employed throughout ‘The Harvest’. The tracks on this album all feature sections of noisy yet subdued ambiance, crushing doom plodding, and bombastic climaxes of post-metal with about 300% more bass in the mix. To say that this is heavy is an understatement, and to say that this is very musical is quite an overstatement. The constant, ambient rumble of bass is a major focus, as most of the riffing is just composed of two repeated, alternating single notes or chords. It doesn’t sound like much, but each is employed carefully and effectively, despite how cyclic everything is. Much of the variety also comes from the drumming, with the slight adjustment of fills and rhythms helping to move the music forward.

‘The Harvest’ is an album that is much more than the sum of its parts. The individual elements are rather stale; the droning guitar/bass rumble with winding leads, the hoarsely screamed vocals, the tribalistic drumming, etc. All the elements have been done before. But Sea Of Bones employs them in just an interesting and unique enough way to make the whole package seem different. Really, if the tempo of this was 40 BPM higher or the vocals were whispered growls, it would be much less interesting; the band teeters on the edge of conventionality without ever quite slipping in, and any change from the way the album is designed now would cause it to topple instantly. In that regard, it’s one of the more carefully and precisely designed albums that I’ve heard; every note is very well placed and, more importantly, interestingly placed, despite how played out the base elements of the music are.

Most of the doom/drone/ambient scene will want to give this album a listen; it’s a good example of how to put a solid spin on the old conventions of these styles and make something new and engaging. Moreover, it’s pretty impressive that they’ve been able to make the post-metal/funeral doom combination something that’s interesting to listen to, where Monarch becomes and endurance test and Pelican slips into rock territory too often nowadays. Worth a look due to how good these guys are at composition, and because it’s just a good listen.

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~ by noktorn on October 18, 2007.

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