Bereft - Leichenhaus
The End Records
Sludge/Doom Metal
7 songs (40:35)
Release year: 2012
Official Bereft Facebook, The End Records
Reviewed by Khelek
Surprise of the month

Bereft is a new band coming out of the U.S. and recently signed to The End. They play a doomy, noisy brand of sludge metal the likes of which is seldom done well these days. The members have been in various other acts, most notably frontman Charles Elliot of Abysmal Dawn. I had a good time listening to Leichenhaus (which means morgue in German, literally "house of corpses") although it is of course the kind of album that you have to be in the right mood to hear to get a whole lot of enjoyment from it.

Right from the opening of Corpse Flower it is obvious that these guys are going to create a muddy, distorted mess. Will it be a good mess or a bad mess? Such are the tantalizing questions that I ask as a reviewer of sludge metal. Corpse Flower unfortunately doesn't give me much to go on other than some massive drums and heavily distorted riffs, pretty standard fare. Mentality Of The Inanimate keeps this extremely slow pace with the same confused, wandering drums of Derek Donley and a background of guitar feedback. Finally, as if giving in to a nightmare, the slow, trudging riffs start up and the low, gravelly growls of Elliot come in. He alternates between these low-pitched growls and some higher pitched yelling that I think goes quite well with the down-tuned guitars of Sacha Dunable. Unfortunately this song does have some trouble keeping my attention mostly due to the interludes of noise and feedback. Otherwise the slow, depressive melody that's created is not bad. Fortunately Withered Efflorescence takes things in the right direction with interesting layers of different riffs that keep coming back to the same cold melody. Bereft also do a good job of keeping the song moving through its seven minute duration with little interludes of softer (though by no means soft) guitars. The whole song echoes churning, dirty sludgy goodness. A Cruel Mirage caught my attention with its intro of static and other noise. This song is interesting because it once again creates this very heavy, crushing atmosphere, but there are also subtle, lighter guitar notes that keep it from being completely dead; there is still some life that is trying to crawl up from the grave. It's not succeeding of course, but the effort itself creates interesting melodies. Finally I just want to mention Ethereal Dispersal. This is one of the few songs where you'll hear some clean guitars, but of course they are mixed in with desolate electric melodies and the growls/screams of Elliot. I also like the massive bass notes from Derek Rydquist on this track in particular.

This is a band that really takes the tenets of doom and sludge metal seriously, and also mixes in some drone and even shoegaze sensibilities. The music they create is crawls along dark and moody surfaces, yet it doesn't take itself so seriously that there is no real fun to be had. Some of the heavier riffs have real energy; I can certainly see their music being able to get a crowd moving. When I listen to albums like this, it forces me to either pay attention to it or turn it off because it is powerful not just through sheer force, but through an attention to detail that is becoming more and more difficult to find. Some songs on this album of course do a better job than others, but overall it is quite a decent work of art. These guys have proven that they know how to do this style of music well, hopefully they continue doing it.

Killing Songs :
Withered Efflorescence, The Coldest Orchestra, A Cruel Mirage
Khelek quoted 81 / 100
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