The band’s name is Aseethe, and they are heavy. They are from Iowa City, IA, and they are heavy. I find it hard to believe there are only three members in this band, because they are heavy. Hopes Of Failure is their ninth release, and bloody hell is it ever heavy! I have Post-Aseethe Bludgeoning Disorder (PABD) from listening to Hopes Of Failure, because it is heavy. Before I go any further with this review, I must not forget to mention that they are heavy.
Now, gentle reader, it would be superfluous to ask how heavy Aseethe are, but questions of what flavour of heaviness would most assuredly be in order. Think of Sunn O))), Cult Of Luna, a less happy Crowbar, or an extremely minimalist mutant strain of early Black Sabbath. Hopes Of Failure has only four songs, but it lasts 43 minutes from start to finish. So yes, Aseethe play slow. This is doom metal, drone metal, dark ambient metal, or whatever one should call something like this. While Hopes Of Failure does not “djent” per se, Aseethe most assuredly “dunnnnn” or “shplunnnnnnnth.”
Other features that immediately come to mind when listening to Hopes Of Failure include the vocals. No attempts at emotion with clean singing here: Guitarist Brian Barr and bassist Danny Barr share the vocal duties in Aseethe and they use what could best be described as “low-pitched screaming” rather than growling, with the vowels stretched out to emphasize a mood of depressive dread. The guitar tone has just the right amount of grit to sound dirtier than it should be, but not enough fuzz to make it unlistenable or abrasive. And they seem to have gone to the Devin Townsend School of Reverb. Hopes Of Failure sounds like it was recorded in an abandoned church, a lightless one with an ever present threat of a tarantula attack taking place (slow, cruel, methodical tarantulas). Aseethe’s previous releases reportedly have more elements of noise and melody but the band’s pre-release material explains that they stripped things down for Hopes Of Failure. The riffs have a minimalist feel to them and Aseethe use repetition to amplify and expand the atmosphere of dread, despair, and depression. If one could liken listening to Periphery to drinking an expertly-made latte with fresh-ground coffee, just the right amount of sweetness, perfect frothed milk, and an artistic swirl at the top; then listening to Aseethe would be more along the lines of drinking hot chocolate, with no (or a very bare minimum of) milk or sweetening added; just raw dark chocolate melted down, still hot, and with fresh chili peppers added. Yes, I had this once. Yes it was surreal; it was awesome; kind of like this album. And yes, I used the same sentence structure and too many semicolons in this paragraph to give you a sense of exactly what Hopes Of Failure sounds like.
The opening track “Sever The Head” leads off with a suitable post-Sabbath majestic doom riff. No vocals kick in until the 01m45s mark. It stomps along for over 11 minutes to establish that this album will not be a joyride. “Towers Of Dust” lasts only 8m33s, making it the album’s ode to brevity. It makes use of ringing chords that give drummer Eric Diercks a chance to topple in with some rolls. “Barren Soil” opens with a bassline with more distortion than most guitarists would feel safe using. The same riff churns over and over again with tortured moaning growls as the song (though not the tempo) evolves. Album closer “Into The Sun” starts much like the opening track and again uses the chord ringing to give the drumming a chance to add to the texture while building tension. The song adds some top-heavy melody to the mix, and even some clean singing. Gentle reader, take heart. This is not a happy song. Re-read the first paragraph to this review. Aseethe are heavy, trust me.
Hopes Of Failure cannot hope to impress every fan. But given the slight disappointment that was Sunn O)))’s 2015 opus Kannon, doom metal lovers will totally go for what Aseethe have to offer and welcome the PABD symptoms of ringing ears and a very sore neck.
Notable Tracks: “Barren Soil”; “Towers Of Dust”
FFO: Sunn O))), Black Sabbath, Cult Of Luna
Hopes Of Failure will be released digitally and on CD and vinyl on February 24, 2017.
You can pre-order it on Aseethe’s Bandcamp page.