Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
A quintet of power born in Newport, RI. It's the directness of Balam‘s attack that makes their debut so impressive, as well as the thrust of their tonality and how smoothly they are able to find a niche within the dreary scope of their doom. Since their self titled release, they have devastated the East Coast with unrivaled live performances, the is no question; Balam are on their way up.
Rhode Island traditional doom firebands Balam are gearing up to release their full-length debut, Days of Old, early in 2015. In fact, they’ve been “gearing up” for a decent portion of this year. The first signs of Days of Old surfaced via their Bandcamp over the summer in the form of the track “With the Lost,” and as we push into cold, dark winter, their fuzzed-out, classic-styled doom seems all the more vital.
You ever want to frustrate the hell out of a band, put them in the time between recording and releasing an album. I don’t envy Balam this contingency-sorting stretch — though they’ve continued to play shows through it — but with a 2015 issue on the horizon, the double-guitar five-piece are ready to unveil another slab of Days of Old, and I’m only too happy to comply.
Balam recorded Days of Old with Trevor Vaughn, and mixed and mastered with him as well between March and April of this year. The seven-song outing is a vicious 45 minutes of full-breadth riffing and stripped-down, light-on-frills doom. Led by the guitars of Zach Wilding and Jonny Sage, the vocals of Alexander Blackhound take early command of the material as the first half of the album pushes toward the title cut, while bassist Nicholas Arruda plays off Wilding and Sage in Candlemassian form (his shining moment arriving in his leading the band through the 15-minute closer) and drummer Zigmond Coffey adds plod to the nod of their bleak but still engaging groove.
Days of Old lacks nothing for atmosphere — each side is given an instrumental introduction of substance, and themes play out in the songs as well — but ultimately, it’s the directness of Balam‘s attack that makes their debut so impressive, as well as the thrust of their tonality and how smoothly they are able to find a niche within the dreary scope of their doom.
There’s much still to take shape before Balam release Days of Old in terms of things like the cover art, what label, and so on, but consider this glimpse at “Days of Old” — and at 11 minutes, it’s a considerable glimpse indeed — an early warning of what the band have in store for the New Year. Here’s hoping the details get sorted soon.
Affecting a heady and voluminous amalgam of Farm, Iron Claw and Wicked Lady is Newport, Rhode Island's Balam, which sits zan(il)y astride Days of Old, an album I invariably stumbled on following a slapdash search for some Old Grandad - the 'Cisco psychedelic doom band, not the drink. Once instant Black Sabbath/The Hyle vibes permeated my kindled soul, was (un)ceremoniously flattened by this Ocean state power trio's waggish, (Pb)-lined Atlantic brogue.
East Coastal War Horse and Windhand comparisons buzz forth like deer flies as we lope on down the shore to eerle, cavernous, and, perchance, rangily cadaverous, sonorizations emanating from the dually doomed i.e. ax'd quintet's front apprentice's yaw(n)ing maw. A brief caveat, though, results from "///////"...Won't Sunn O))) whig out, 'cause of such punctuative heresy? It certainly gets our attention, plus, at scarcely minute's length, serves as palatably anodyne, however whack, atmospheric (instrumental) opener. The clockbell tapping, scrappy palm muted, "Children of the Grave" meets Earthride & Electric Wizard mien inherent to "Birth"? (Ah, shit gets real!) Cowbell/drum ride affectionados should have a field night - and mouse - here. The reverb-illuminated belligerence and imposing drum stewardship continues, unabated, throughout evil(e) twin "Lilith" (linchpin to Adam's Eve), another great humdinger from these guys, with additional heady, quavering bass, alongside ponderously kinetic drumming implements, all-around ('til we drop our crown).
The intelligible flow of the tracks, which reaches an apex within top, titular highlight "Days of Old", proper, intimate a fluid conduit to this album's instantly accessible - or acceptable - pre-dispo(sition). If untold genre species (akin to Black Oath, Iron Void, Hour of 13 and Pale Grey Lord) eventually establish singular identities, so does Balam, in one fell swoop...a feat, particularly in the light of doom, no matter how dark, murky or fulminating. Elsewhere, the votive and erstwhile space-theme encapsulated "Spirit Flight", with its tribal, militant march and wizened, eldritch synths, paves a tarry path to "With The Lost", a pendulously swaying, eight minute long knuckle buster of a semi-fast, semi-slow (rafter) burner which, effectively, segues into lost dimensions of hardy doom metal turf. No sooner do you fully get grooving does a helluva bridge and second tier development beg egregiously wry returns - or revelations.
As closure, I've minor issue with that whopping, 15.5 minute closer, "Bound to the Serpent", which, mercurially pronounced as it is in itself, could've/should've been tiered into sprawling single, thus cementing, or, if you like, fermenting (i.e. pickling) the remaining five tracks - forget said front-slash nonsense, already - into a congruous, as well as deciduously compact, bedeviled offering. Although it won't part the Red Sea, tastes better than sip of the Dead.
• Coffey - Drums
• Jonny Sage - Guitar
• Nick Arruda - Bass
• Alexander Blackhound - Vocals
01. /////// 00:55
02. Birth 02:23
03. Lilith 03:38
04. Days Of Old 11:04
05. Spirit Flight 03:46
06. With The Lost 08:17
07. Bound To The Serpent 15:41