Occupying the dark space between Khanate and Sunn 0))), Eagle Twin are the ultimate doom band. Formed by Gentry Densley (Iceburn), a musical prodigy who has been heard to dabble in jazz, progressive rock, metal and hardcore, and utilising the sort of riffs that could bend steel, this is slow, disturbing stuff indeed.
‘In the beginning was the scream’ sets the tone by opening with jazzy guitar sounds, only distorted and twisted into other-worldly bleakness. This proves to be a mere prelude, however, to the treacle-thick sludge riffs that it all slows down to some thirty seconds in. Gentry’s voice has to be heard to be believed. Something akin to Tom Waits’ world-weary drawl crossed with a cancer-stricken devil, he rasps his lyrics at you as if from the pit of hell, twisting consonants and gurgling spite, all the while backed up by gargantuan riffs and Tyler Smith’s pounding drums. It is unnerving and yet utterly compelling. From then on, what you have is a master-class in doom. The songs shift in style and tempo, the musicianship is uniformly excellent, and the compositions, while lengthy, are never anything less than riveting.
‘Murder of…’ is dark, complex and marginally more melodic than the opener, with the vocals crawling out of the speaker at a leisurely pace and the guitars thundering. ‘Birds of black hot fire’ opens with a clean guitar line that builds slowly and recalls The Swans with its multi-tracked vocal and off-kilter drums before veering off unexpectedly into stoner-rock territory, with a guitar sound not dissimilar to the much-missed Kyuss. ‘Story telling of Ravens’, by contrast, slows things right back down to a crawl, with the vocals low in the mix amidst effect-laden guitar in what is a truly unsettling piece of music. ‘Crow Hymn’ is faster and returns to the stoner vibe established on ‘Birds…’, with outstanding drumming and jarring guitars giving the track an abrasive feel that demands attention (in no way could Eagle Twin be classed as background music) and taking a full four minutes to even introduce vocals. It is a lengthy and complicated track that forms a fascinating centrepiece to the album, stretching the fourteen minute mark without ever inspiring boredom.
Following such a lengthy piece was never going to be an easy act, but ‘King of carrion’ does a good job by speeding up and Tyler’s crash cymbal takes some serious stick throughout, which helps to undo some of the claustrophobia inspired by the previous epic. Final track ‘And It Came To Pass That Birds Rain Down As Black Snakes’ is dark as pitch and twice as evil and it is a fitting closer to such a monumental album.
Throughout this album is utterly absorbing. It took four listens (and multiple replays of various songs) before I felt qualified to write a review, such is the complexity of what lies within, and it is an album that demands and deserves undivided attention. Lyrically it is fascinating, veering between the mystical lyricism of Isis and Sunn 0))) and the production is also perfect, representing the dichotomy between the most binding claustrophobia and scintillating rock tracks with consummate ease, whilst rendering every instrument in utmost clarity. Clearly such a record is not going to find mainstream appeal, but for anyone with an interest in acts such as neurosis, Sunn 0))), Red Sparrowes or their ilk this is essential listening. An exhausting and inspiring masterpiece from a record label that seems incapable of releasing poor music – Southern Lord have just found another champion.