Extreme drone/doom act Aseethe might work with a slow pace, but it is definitely paying off. Starting out in 2007 the band put out a series of split collaborations before releasing its debut album, Reverent Burden, an early and raw representation of their vision. A series of EPs soon followed, with Nothing Left, Nothing Gained specifically standing out, seeing the band establish a more coherent sound, setting a direction for their identity.
It is no surprise now that they signed with Thrill Jockey, through which they are releasing their sophomore record, Hopes of Failure, their most complete work to date. The album features the doom/sludge mentality that lies in the core of Aseethe, but in stepping away from the old-school and classic interpretations of the genre. The overall approach is closer to quasi-metal bands, such as Neurosis and labelmates SUMAC, with a pull towards the drone side. Sparse and cacophonous, asphyxiating in its approach, the band sets a course through heavy strums, dissonant guitar pulls, deafening vocals and never-ending feedback, enhancing the infernal quality of their music. It gives a certain grainy characteristic to the sound, a torturous perspective in their doom/sludge narrative that truly echoes through this experience.
Aseethe is a strange case, and even though so many elements of their sound are based on aspects of extreme metal, their overall approach feels like it’s taking a step away from the genre. The groove of the record, for example, is overall fairly straight, destructive and repetitive, but there are times when variations are introduced, either in the form of minimal parts, not entirely within a post-metal domain but close enough, and tribalistic elements in the percussion, which mutate the sound. Similarly, they await until the very end of the album to open up a complete different dimension, as “Into The Sun” becomes an epic, ritualistic piece with towering clean vocals amidst the noisy soundscapes.
It is an interesting twist that Hopes of Failure is trying to achieve. The band enhances the foundations of their sound with further elements, but they do not take these into extremes. There are times when it feels like the whole track is about to dissolve into a power electronics/sludge hybrid, not unlike fellow co-conspirators The Body, or that a psychedelic mirage will rise through the drone mists, but Aseethe decide not to dwell in these realms. And funnily enough, that is what makes their approach and style fairly unique, being essentially a re-interpretation of the extreme/experimental heavy drone/doom.