Bask – American Hollow
The Path Less Traveled Records
23 September 2014
Crimson Eye Records/Self-Released
8.5/10 – review by Jamie Cansdale
When I was given this album to review, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect – doom metal has recently become oversaturated with a sea of stoner bands, so I impulsively assumed this would be the same (this does not mean that this new uprising is bad, for there are plenty of great bands out there). But upon first listen, I felt compelled to strip back all of my inclinations of what this band would sound like. How can we label Bask? Well, will desert rock suffice?
They’re neither strictly doom or stoner, and there are plenty of other elements thrown into the mix of American Hollow. I get the impression that they will become known as “that band that mixes country music with doom metal.” That will be the obligatory mention of this mix here.
Do not let such a description put you off, however. This is a powerhouse of a record, unlike most releases I have heard this year. The great thing about it is that each song has something different to offer: opener High Mountain Pass is by far the most straightforward doom/heavy metal track here, throwing us into a crowd of music lovers banging their heads – with some of the best drumming I have heard in a long time – whereas closer Endless Summer is an uplifting post-rock anthem full of sweeping guitar leads and shoegaze-like fuzz.
The rest of this album is a musical journey, a road movie full of scenes of the American heartland with plenty of desert and blue skies. It is an aesthetic album that builds on layer upon layer of sound, each one filled with a different tension; the slow burn of Land of the Sky for example is a tumultuous trip through dizzying highs and trembling lows across the eight minute duration, a brawl between the quieter moments of the band’s music and their more thunderous side. If I had to pick one song to use as an example of what Bask are capable of, this is definitely the one. They would be a perfect addition to any Desertfest line up.
If it isn’t the pounding of the drums that take you, it is the vocal delivery, which switches perfectly from a style similar Americana and Country music to an almighty roar similar to sludge bands in the past. Listen to the title track if you do not believe me! The raw passion in the vocal delivery elevates the band’s music far above the near onslaught of today’s stoner scene in doom metal. This is one release you do not want to miss.