Blood of the Black Owl
posted on 5/2007 By:
A brief lesson in metal reviewers' hyperbole: if you are faced with a really protracted and atmospheric doom-type album, just break out the words “draining,” “suffocating” and “trudging” and people will probably think that you know what you’re talking about. These adjectives have about as much meaning left to them in the review context as “brutal” in a death metal review or “epic” in a power metal review; in short, they’re heavily over-applied. Sometimes, though, bands do in fact merit such lugubrious descriptions, and Blood of the Black Owl is one of them. Though not an immediately enjoyable experience for anyone—and likely not an enjoyable experience ever for most—this disc’s blend of protracted, atmospheric doom and West Coast black metal is capable of sucking the very energy out of even the most drug-addled doom fiend.
Hailing from the shitty-weathered climes of Washington State (where else?) and, to everyone’s extreme surprise, just one performer—one Chet W. Scott, Blood of the Black Owl make it their (his? The debate rages on!) personal mission to craft a transcendently abusive brand of doom metal. This shit doesn’t get off on bludgeoning or crushing the listener, mind you; the modus operandi here is to gradually choke the life out of the victim/fan with lengthy, droning song structures and stolidly glacial beats. I’m reminded of the idiosyncratic drone/doom of Celestiial, complete with occasional folksy instrumentation and hokey forest obsession, except viewed through Leviathan’s lens of suicidal psychedelica freakoutness. Of course, song-by-song analysis is useless here; each track is a lengthy (10 minutes on average) ordeal of fuzzy, droning guitars, distant filtered moans, and occasional tribal drum or ocarina interjections. The resulting noise isn’t so much heavy as it is a heavily atmospheric journey into whatever wooded hinterlands your mind can summon; needless to say, a hefty degree of imagination is requisite.
So is this self-titled effort appropriately “draining?” You bet your ass. This shit will put you in an unresponsive trance when you least expect it—like while driving your car at night, so please folks, don’t pop this in your Dodge’s changer—and that’s the sign of high-quality craftsmanship for this kind of album. You all know full well at this point whether Blood of the Black Owl will strike you as an awesome psychic forest crawl or just plain boring—let your knowledge of your own taste guide you here.
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