Black Wasteland
Incantations of Decay

German doom overlords Black Wasteland blew me away with a pair audio gallows’ hangings; the Where Light Can Not Intrude LP and the Dehydration EP.  Capable of twin axin’ their way through forests of Lizzy, Valkyrie and Priest, filthing a path to the toughest biker bar dirt doom show (think St. Vitus, Turambar, Earthride and Deer Creek sharing a bill) and going straight into the classic primordial ooze from whence it all came (Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Witchfinder General), this quartet can plow just about any grid of the doom field and yield highly edible rot crops.  Hell, sometimes the gangrene sleaze overtones of Celtic Frost, Church of Misery, Venom and Soulpreacher even enter the fray, so there’s diversity to this band’s doom aplenty.  The band’s 4th official release Incantations of Decay finds them taking their sound as far as it can go in every direction from highly melodic, twin pussy lickin’ guitar harmonies to Norse Hammer doom, sludge and blackened thrash with a singular mission of pounding you into the ground like a crop stake marker; it’s all in there and then some.

“The Banisher” opens with a growling, demonic vocal proposition which sends master riff blacksmiths Andi and Arne into an immortal lifestorm of tempest withered riffs, high energy n’ high wire harmonies and 80s Pentagram grooves with stronger production.  Drummer Fabi 10 arms his way like a giant squid across the drum kit with 4/4 rock beats, jarring fills and lots of splashy cymbal work happening to keep things constantly engaging.  Gurgus’ bass is always slung low and full of greasy lard while his strong set of pipes veer between demonic incantations, melodies nailed to a bleeding overcast sky and sharper, scratched larynx shouts.  Solos are ripped at fuckin’ will and Andi n’ Arne trade licks like they’re going out of style whenever they’re not diggin’ into a doubled-up dirt dealing doom riff like the track’s lead-off, cornfed Sabbath/Pentagram goodie.

Sludgy as a sewer, a shit stink doom riff drone and constantly cycling poly-beats breed a groove like a mutated rat monstrosity that’s an instant standout entitled “Pale Eyes (Of Goodbye).”  The vocals waver amidst a sea of hardcore/metal bile barks and melodic strains ala Count Raven circa High on Infinity.  These grooves will tear a leg off like a bear that thinks your camp cuisine is shit while he shakes you to pieces in a slow, mesmerizing side to side swing.  3:35 summons a stalking Jack the Ripper doom riff all goosed up on Slayer at first then Frost, Venom and Vitus as it falls prey to a hopeless throat slash with sickened vocal spawn shooting beams of light dead on sight with revolver.  Trust me…if you want to hear just one track to sell yourself on the power of Black Wasteland…this is it.  Neanderthal doom riffing thaws out, screams and clubs itself a woman in the hell burning intro wrath of “Hexenhammer.”  Gurgus’ voice takes to cleaner vocal valleys on the sparser psychedelic passages with a Zeeb Parkes’ inflection (but slightly deeper) but he mixes in biting shouts whenever the guitars turn to slime.  His switches are tasteful and the song runs the gamut from hoof to ground classic metal trots, sluggard thrash, demonic doom, powerhouse harmony guitars, solos and soulful blues.  There’s a lot of curveballs and tempo swerves for a vintage sounding doom band and not only do the vocals/guitars keep things classy but the rhythm section never lags once.

“Downfall of Alexandria’s” fuzzy starter riff is more deceptive than Houdini because the track immediately fills its stoner rock veins thereafter with mid-tempo blackened thrash poison where cryptic, noise-bleached guitar melodies and claw shredded vocal puke (that still find places for melodic variety) are crowned as kings.  Fabi’s drumming crests the cymbals with majesty while using hard, economical fills and brutish hits from way, way back whenever 3:35 brings irate sludge/doom riffs and nasty vocals straight from Satan’s asshole.  Diamond sharp, finely polished guitars offer glimmering melodic hope briefly whenever “Cold Waves of Desolation” settles in.  Tranquility is soon busted like a kid snorting coke off the hood of a cop car in front of a police station as palm-muted sloth thrash chugs duel with icy lead guitars and begotten doom riffs.  Even though the pacing is deliberate the drumming remains complex with climactic fills, rolls and anti-matter tempo reversals never allowing the beat to stagnate.  Gurgus’ vocal onslaught is pure Cronos/Tom G. Warrior on this one and his low-end suffocates like the ol’ pillow over the head trick.

Vibes are swapped again on the stonerized fuzz buster riffs and slick Lizzy/Valkyrie harmonies that swim through the watery grave doom of “Falling Kingdom.”  The serenity bathed twin guitars and the powerful vocal lamentations are then cut with a butcher’s precision utilizing freshly sharpened verbal blades, propulsive tribal percussion and unbaptized sludge riffs so heavy they could suplex an elephant over the moon to get the tune’s point across.  “Brave New Blindness” makes a return pilgrimage to the more blatantly 70s hard rock tinges of the album opener with a gorgeous, moon bewitched bi-headed riff all loaded on the grandeur of the groove.  Midway into the song that riff carries a bigger stick n’ dick than Jesus himself as some ripping screams set in before the song turns to sheer turbulence as it wrestles with melody and hatred whilst never losing the sweaty handed, heavy rock that made it a beast in the first place.  Repeating, spell-crafted psyche doom riffs open up “Vultures Arising,” at first to an arid breathing psyche-Sab jam with entrancing grace but soon it turns into the kind of clogged artery thrash/black metal/crust/blues-doom peddled so well by Teeth of the Hydra.  Closer “Away from Today” is another masterpiece on an album full of ‘em with suave lead melodies applying healing salve to riffs that bear 1,000 lbs. worth of sludged out Sabbath abandon as the lyrics exclaim sheer regret of life itself.  And god fuckin’ damn it those riffs are punishing; especially when the leads go oozing overtop while the drums clear the way like a streetsweeper with faulty brushes substituted for helicopter blades.  The only respite and ironic light at the end of the tunnel comes with a literal seconds long acoustic outro.

Every Black Wasteland release is worth your time but Incantations of Decay is their Grand Doombah thus far and well-worth a purchase for fans who like doom/sludge bands that can work both the harsh and melodic sides of the genre with equal force.  Once you’ve thoroughly explored this record, work in reverse and pick-up Dehydration ‘cause you won’t be sorry; fuckin’ killer doom here from some guys who really, really mean it.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
December 6th, 2016


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