“…a 42-minute slab of thoroughly misanthropic and defiant death-infected doom…” – On Pain Of Death‘s Year Naught Doom.
Here’s a nice surprise. Four years after their two-track demo made some rumbles in the underground comes Year Naught Doom, the debut full-length from Mayo quartet On Pain of Death, and it’s a doozy. They’ve clearly been doing much woodshedding in the interim, and the result is a 42-minute slab of thoroughly misanthropic and defiant death-infected doom, where all is in thrall to the power of the riff.
Ostensibly divided into three tracks, none shorter than 11 minutes, it’s better taken as a single composition in three movements. The title track kicks off with something like a hydrophonic field recording, implying the watery depths to which the listener is about to sink. Ninety seconds in and a crash of drums heralds their powerful attack, all decaying chords, thunderous percussion and inhuman growls and screeches, with a generously spacious production – abetted by a top-notch mastering job from Khanate’s James Plotkin – that envelops the whole setting in a chilling mist. The filthy guitar tones, beastly utterances and witch-like banshee howls blend together in a mélange of malevolence. It’s terrifying.
‘Tell Your God to Ready for Blood‘ slows things down even further, crawling like the dead from the grave amid the ghostly voices of Sumerian demons summoned by the Necronomicon. The tension builds with a thrilling bridge section at the six-minute mark before the long, slow release into the abyss with an Earth-like repetitive riff. Hypnotic stuff indeed.
The third and final number, the 17-plus-minute ‘It Came from the Bog‘, is nothing like the Cormanesque B-movie silliness the title implies. Itself comprising a number of distinct movements, it begins as the last track ends with a buzzing, crackling bass tone, interrupted by episodes of churning guitar, stop-start drum fills and agonised vocalisations that lock into place, then strip away to an isolated rumbling bass riff that signals the transition to the next section which builds an almost unbearable crescendo to a climax that you fear will never come.
It’s a relief when the din suddenly dissipates half way through, though it’s only the eye of the storm, as just when you think the terror might be over, the bogeymen return, their movements plodding yet stalking, their riffs unrelenting and unstoppable – at least until the evil inevitably retreats to the murky depths from whence it came. After all, it has to end at some point. Doesn’t it?