Coltsblood - Into the Unfathomable Abyss
Candlelight Records
Doom / Sludge
7 songs (57' 52")
Release year: 2014
Candlelight Records
Reviewed by Andy

Turn up doom/sludge power trio Coltsblood's first LP, Into the Unfathomable Abyss, and you'll receive the sonic equivalent of getting accidentally run over by a steamroller, and then having the driver throw the machine into reverse and back over your mangled, bleeding remains after he realizes that it'll probably be easier to dodge a murder rap than a personal injury lawsuit. But as the songs develop, it's clear that the band can provide more than sheer, blunt-instrument bludgeoning -- they can also supply atmosphere.

After a noisy intro filled with what sounds like samples in the background, with a little guitar feedback and a primitive drum beat, the next track, Beneath Black Skies, starts slowly and purposefully, with a growling undertone to the bass-laden distortion used. The guitarist, Jem, has a smooth, rolling quality to her chords, even when the song speeds up, that goes well with the bass and blend smoothly with each other as well, but her lead lines are what I like best; thin and alternating between midrange and high, they wail dangerously at the brink of sounding like controlled feedback. And they're the highest-frequency thing you'll hear on this record. Bassist/vocalist John's singing is a harsh, angry roar buried far back in the mix behind the instruments, almost as if he is in another room, unless he is growling; in that case, he sounds a lot closer then, but barely sounds like a human being at all. The song ends at a speed approximating that of continental drift, with no more guitar riffs but lots of Jem's aforementioned high leads shrilling to John's bass, which gives the listener a bit of a shock when Blood bursts into furious riffing and drumming at the speed of death metal. Abyss of Aching Insanity, on the other hand, starts quietly with noisy but low-volume guitar, but feels solemn and reflective even when the riffs start crunching a bit more -- and screeching with feedback whenever they die down. Again Jem's solos make this more of a treat than it would otherwise be; the sound is bleak and lonely, dragged out as slowly as the rhythm section. And like Beneath Black Skies, this one, too, drags more and more, until it's almost unbearable by the end.

I can tell you from personal experience that it's easy to just pay attention to the loud parts the first time through, but after a couple of listens one can appreciate the minor things that give this one so much atmosphere: The full but mournful tone on Jem's powerful guitar solos, the buzzing rattle of John's bass at the end of Grievous Molestation, and little touches like a galloping drumbeat separating that track from the next. The sound is complex and well-produced with the band's best assets put in the perfect position to utterly crush the listener, sometimes agonizingly slow, other times speeding up with the unstoppability of a juggernaut. Return to the Lake of Madness provides a fitting musical background to the name, an instrumental starting with a misty set of arpeggios sliced through by lazy but sharp-toned guitar solos -- but this time one gets that soloing all the way through.

This may need to be listened to a few times to really get the most out of it, but one thing it will definitely provide is planet-sized heaviness. This is an excellent first album that deserves some attention by anyone who likes doom on the sludgy side.

Bandcamp: https://candlelightrecordsusa.bandcamp.com/album/into-the-unfathomable-abyss

Killing Songs :
Beneath Black Skies, Abyss of Aching Insanity, Grievous Molestation
Andy quoted 86 / 100
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