Longhouse
II:Vanishing
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Like an Ennio Morricone soundtrack meets Goblin and Zombi with liberal sprinkles of Inter Arma, Grim Ravine, Graves at Sea, Black Sabbath, Icepick Revival, Indian, Soulpreacher, Rwake, Swedish/Finnish gloom and an unholy, nail you to a cross of shame sludge attitude; Ottawa’s trio Longhouse have dropped a fearlessly frightening sludge-themed album that not only adheres to the genre’s traditions but transcends them.  This is evil shit to gang bang nuns to but it’s also intoxicating and smoother than mead wine.  I’ve heard their first one and it was damn good but this fuckin’ thing was beamed in from an entirely different stratosphere.

“Hunter’s Moon” is a terrifying trip through psilocybin, mescaline and way too much weed.  Soft, echoing chords heavy on the reverb set up the kind of melancholy that is sorely missed from frost-masters Agalloch but the resulting trip isn’t even anywhere near that band.  Autumnal, atmospheric cymbal ghosting sets the stage for one of the most penultimate dirge riffs I’ve ever had the pleasure of being symmetrically split by.  Unrestful spirits take shape in the form of ghastly guitar squeals as a main plummet of power chords build moon-erasing ambience.  The build-up is slow, constantly adding freakier sounds and textures by the minute which are akin to getting tossed headfirst down a bottomless well.  Late game, Josh Cayer’s bass takes a fuzzy, grime-covered solo opportunity.  Here a semblance of “groove” takes shape amidst wolf howl guitar screams while drummer Mike Hache drives a beat into the fucking grave.  Cayer’s piss-stained, blackened howl is the stuff of nightmares (taking ¾ of the song to enter) but when it does it’ll kill all of the wildlife in an entire forest.  Evil, evil, fucking shit…

A demonic, blues-slopped doom groove kicks off “Vanishing” with less of a putrid n’ heady atmosphere but not a less putrid, vomit-soaked groove, if you feel what I’m saying…  If Eyehategod emerged from a NOLA mire, these neurotic heathens rose straight up from a Canadian glacier and melted themselves out with the power of their amplifiers (does Canada have any glaciers kicking around these days, I’m spitballin’ here…).  Lung-raped screams are NSFW or the neighbors and the semi-groovy dirge riffs really work up a vile head of noxious steam.  The Sabbath is present here, yet in a form so diseased it’s not traditional in the least.  Guitarist Marc Casey morphs some classic sounding doom riffs into permafrost cracking blackness before the hellish riff-might returns.  If life has wronged you…this is your soundtrack.  “Blood and Stone” kicks off with an almost Swedish sadness comprised of soaring, heart-breaking lead guitars conjuring sky-aimed melody.  Fuck that melodic shit though because once the main riff, downturned rhythms and sickened sewage screams kick in you better run for cover.  The groove in this one could crack the Earth in half.  When the riffs aren’t slung lower than the Hell’s core, some cool double-tracked melodies are layered about the rhythmic grind of the bass and autopsy giving guitar licks.  Chugging, second half blues really make for some head-nodding on barbiturates vibes until Casey drops a highly melodic solo.

“No Name, No Marker” keeps the drums way in the background for atmosphere during the intro along with apprehensively muted chord progressions.  You really didn’t expect that to last do you?  Doom-y riffs soon enter with God’s thunder backin’ ‘em but their tone is again in a strange Swedish/Finnish funeral fugue.  Soon melody is swallowed by a sinkhole of subsonic, grinding doom riffage with another freakish vocal abomination leading the charge.  Every now and again the crunching sludge/grind restrains the chords for trippy rhythm riffs and harmonic lead-esque melodies that oddly back up the vile carnage with style n’ originality to spare.  Those little rippling, watery lead FX and the reverb-drenched warmth of instruments add an entirely different dementia to the trudging riffs and nihilistic vocal puke (pay special attention to 4:25 and beyond).  The tune ends with a filthy maelstrom of doom riffs that sound like a tornado murdering a trailer park.

And what a fuckin’ surprise when closer “The Vigil” swamps itself in sanguine, soaring, Morgion-esque doom riffs.  The guitars echo and reflect off each other in pure beauty while the bass holds the foundation down tightly and thickly.  Then…THEN…Cayer unleashes powerhouse clean vocals that I wouldn’t have seen coming in a million years.  Ruthless doom churns drown out the melodies in a spray of acid rain piss as the song tumbles back and forth between one feral sleaze-movement after another.  The split personality makes for a sludge song like no other and deathbed screams are effortlessly interspersed by striking melodic vocal heroics (dude is a fucking powerhouse singer).  Hell, the way those ugly, gnarled doom riffs twist into scaling melody leads hold more power than a hypnotist’s watch.  You are under Longhouse’s spell and power from start to finish.  …And at 10 minutes plus in length there is never a boring moment, a wasted change and a whole helluva lot of progressive intentions packed into some of the filthiest blackened sludge doom I’ve ever heard.  The tune fades off into a baroque, soundtrack beauty that couldn’t be more fitting for the journey travelled.

Without a doubt Longhouse’s II: Vanishing will be high on my year end list, VERY high.  There’s a lot of great doom and sludge these days but these guys just transcend the boundaries and do whatever the fuck they please…and it works n’ then some.  Don’t miss this!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
October 12th, 2017

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