I’ve never been a fan of the whole 1 song concept album. The only one that really set with me was Edge of Sanity’s “Crimson”, and I haven’t re-visited that in many years. Heck, even albums with just two lengthy songs like Moonsorrow’s last effort strains my patience.

So here is a one song, 54 minute effort from Kentucky’s Highgate that combines the crusty, crawling lope of sludge/doom a la Burning Witch, Negative Reaction, Crowbar, Eyehategod and such with the neurotic, ambient black metal of say Shining, and the result is enthralling but also a spiraling descent into depressive sonic self loathing.

To their credit, despite being one looooooong untitled track, the track does have significant, separate stanza’s every several minutes or so that all offer different ‘songs’ as it were. The first eight minutes serve as an introductory build up, with some sampling and slow, deliberate dirge like riffing, but it introduces us to Jamie Porter’s sickening wails and shrieks. At around eight minutes in, the second movement is where things really start to take off as Porter’s painful screams layer over a simple, but evocative bass line that’s flat out fucking draining. About 15 minutes in, you get some truly despondent funeral doom riffage that would put most Finnish acts to shame, but it’s given a nasty, visceral sheen due to Porter’s retching hack and the crusty, crawling guitar tone and takes you past the albums mid point and into a more loping and urgent, strained segment. Then there is the album’s climax which contains a riff of such a gloriously epic, yet addictively repetitive nature, it’s one of the few riffs I’ve heard this year that I’m glad lasts 13 minutes and I’m upset when it’s done. Just amazing-yet so simple and a fitting end to the album.

Despite being the hated 1 song album, partly due to is tangible icky-ness and the final movement, Highgate’s debut is oozing up my best of 2008 list and along with other recent releases by the likes of Funeralium, Volition and Paganus, again shows that Israel’s Total Rust is a fast rising doom label.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
March 13th, 2008


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