With some doom bands, you feel the initial impact and nothing more. With the first blow comes a numbness; a buffer of bruising against the second and third and fourth, as the riff reaches its peak of strength and promptly levels out. I’ve been to countless gigs where the euphoria of that first eruption – the sudden awakening of every instrument, every limb, every ear simultaneously, enacted with such a force that almost makes me stagger back – is followed by 90 minutes of flatline, as players and instruments and audience all settle back into a mutual, if slightly louder, sense of stasis. Hopes Of Failure doesn’t have this problem. Aseethe understand how to disturb the equilibrium just enough to renew the sense of urgency. They pull back for a moment. They slow down ever so slightly. They resonate for a fraction longer than anyone expects. They suck out the momentum and implant it anew. When the guitars strike again, I’m off balance and vulnerable, stumbling over the crags of jagged tempo and sudden rifts in progress. Without a predictable, metronomic consistency through which to anticipate the next movement, I’m never able to brace myself.
I’ve seen references to Aseethe as a doom counterpart to Neurosis, which I can definitely hear. Both bands feel like freighters sinking under the weight of their cargo, reduced to a perilous crawl by the distortion mounted upon their backs, lurching forward as the engine revives and slumps in a miserable near-death cycle. Yet where Neurosis are forced to bear a more melancholic burden, Aseethe are carrying concrete. Cold, monochromatic, entirely unsympathetic. Riffs of brutalist right-angles and functional simplicity. At several points the album verges on collapsing under this faceless load; “Towers Of Dust” decelerates as the power chords press downward, resonating and sinking into the snare and cymbals, seemingly slower each time the riff renews itself; the lop-sided alternation of palm-mutes and open strings on “Barren Soil” falters forth on crooked wheels, while screams announce themselves from states of cathartic exhaustion as opposed to vehemence and power. So what exactly is the product of all this strain and labour? I start to feel that the very load that pushes itself into the backs of Aseethe – this heft of percussion collision and amplifier vibration – is in fact a monument to the futility of everything. We endure this burden for no reward.