I was lucky enough to catch Liverpool's Coltsblood live a few weeks ago, and was utterly blown away by their crushingly miserable strain of doom. Their demo was available for just three pieces of gold, so in lieu of continuing my alcohol intake, I decided to reward them for intoxicating my mind with maddening heaviness instead. Worth every filthy penny.
The lo-fi hiss that permeates the cyclical, hypnotic riff that opens 'Abyss Of Aching Insanity' gives you a good idea of what Coltsblood do; creeping, crawling doom with all the malevolence of black metal. Lovely.
When the vocals kick in... wait, 'kick in' sounds a little too energetic for how the vocals arrive... okay, I've got it: when the vocals are wrenched, howling and clawing from their prison within the cassette, the guttural, anguished quality of the voice, combined with the clatter of drums and distortion make it sound like powerviolence played at a hundredth of the intended speed.
The intensity of the delivery is something I can attest to, having witnessed the raw rumbling fury that bassist/vocalist John manages to strangle out of both his throat and the neck of his bass.
The loose structure of the track allows for plenty of space; for squalls of feedback from guitarist Jem to stab out at you from the speakers inbetween the torture she inflicts on her strings, for the cacophonous battery of the rhythm to sound like drummer Steve should be convicted of cruelty towards his kit. It also allows for a bit of elasticity, so when the wail of the guitar solo escapes the tape around the halfway mark, it feels interminable, like they could go on abusing your ears with this black noise forever, were it not for the time constraints of physical media.
The endless excruciation reflects the title of the track, truly feeling like an endless abyss of audio terror designed to destroy your mind. So really fucking good, basically.
The flipside of this little black horror is a catchy little ditty entitled 'Beneath Black Skies', which announces itself with a crash. At first it seems like just more of the same, but it coalesces into an almost catchy track.
Well, relatively catchy.
Another of Jem's expansive, skulldrilling guitar tangents threatens to further warp the mind, but thankfully the full band lock into an actual rhythm again, and about a minute later there's a section I remember hazily headbanging to at the gig.
As I recall, it's a misleading couple of bars, because soon they're back to stretching out the time between notes with more feedback. I'd like them to stick to it when they lock into these great rhythms, by abandoning traditional song structures it tends to feel a little unfocused, too 'jammy', to really hold my attention.
I hate typing stuff that sounds negative, but sometimes I just yearn for a band to realise when they're on to a good thing, and just fuckin' riff on it, y'know? But the rest of the track passes by sans-riff, so I guess I'll hold out hope for their next recording.
Coltsblood are one of the finest new bands I've had the pleasure of seeing play, and hearing in their formative stage. I'm really excited to see where they'll take their disgusting concoction of tar-black sludge, and you should be too. Ignore this band at your peril.
The tapes are sold out now so sucks for you if you didn't get one. Don't cry, you can still listen to the demo over at the Coltsblood bandcamp and pick up one of their awesome t-shirts while you're there.
Also, just announced at the time of writing is that Ulthar Records will be releasing a remastered version of this demo on vinyl. So get that, and go watch them play mountain-crumblingly heavy riffs live next chance you get!