Bloody Panda - Summon
Profound Lore Records
7 songs (58:43)
Release year: 0
Official Myspace, Profound Lore Records
Reviewed by Charles
Regardless of what they sound like, New York’s Bloody Panda appear impeccably cutting-edge. Featuring Lev Weinstein on drums (of Krallice and progressive death metallers Astomatous), and fronted by Yoshiko Ohara, a visual artist from Japan who also did the curiously disturbing artwork, they have collaborated with Kayo Dot and gigged with Jarboe. The slightly ungrammatical press release that arrives with the promo is at pains to reflect their avant-garde credentials, describing Summon as “the aural equivalent if a Takashi Miike film meets a Nagisa Oshima film and translated into doom metal”, and “an artful time-stretching observation”. We are also informed that the final release will include a DVD featuring a “visual interpretation” of the album’s centrepiece, the 21-minute long Misere featuring a renowned butoh dancer.

Funnily enough, none of these people or things leap immediately to mind when listening to this, their second album (although having now researched butoh dancing via youtube, I can confirm that it fits Bloody Panda like grey bodypaint on a creepy stumbling man). Their sound is unpolished and sludgy, snail’s pace drone-doom, laced with screeching feedback and disorientating sound effects. There is a great deal of those Sunn 0)))-originated shifting guitar chord rumbles, which are devoid of a regular pulse but heavy on bowel-shaking menace (particularly in the aforementioned Misere, where they lurch sporadically, unexpectedly and thrillingly into fast black metal tremolos). The Southern Lord pioneers are not, however, the first band that this made me think of, and it would be horribly unfair to paint these guys as their imitators.

In terms of comparisons, the two bands I get first and foremost are menacing new blackened doomsters Culted and O’Malley/Anderson/etc. side-project Thorr’s Hammer. In the case of the latter, the likeness is perhaps a lazy one due to the female vocals, but nonetheless there is a definite similarity in the eerily moaning clean vocals that float above the sound- even if Ohara’s performance is often defiantly static in the face of melody. Whilst she doesn’t attempt to match Ozma’s earthshaking growls, her more bloodcurdling moments, such as the horror-heroine outright screams (as on Saccades I + II) lend this a mysterious, even Fantomas-like character. I make the Culted reference because this is curiously accessible for a drone-doom record. Like that band’s music, Summon is not afraid to ditch the feedback and atmospherics in favour of cannibalistic, shambling undead riffs. The moments when Gold, for example, lurches into swinging action are high points of the album. You get a sense of focus and progression, as well, with tracks such as Misere clearly building to truly powerful crescendos of choral wails and piping church organ, ensuring that listeners are rarely left wondering where this music is going.

So it’s more enjoyable than you worry it may be, and it manages to squeeze some new, original life out of a rapidly expanding subgenre. It isn’t as groundbreaking as it presents itself, but there isn’t a lack of innovation. What’s more, it is genuinely creepy music blessed with an enticingly dark and disturbing atmosphere, and as such it fits nicely into the current wave of avant-doom acts, contributing something worthwhile to it.

Killing Songs :
Misere, Gold
Charles quoted 79 / 100
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