In case you missed out on CVLT’s previous stream of the new material from California’s rising doom lords Keeper, rest assured that now is your chance to bask in their down tuned, hateful sound one more time while I dissect this offering. Entitled The Space Between Your Teeth, this two song EP is a resin-caked bowl, packed to the brim with the finest in Doom Metal. In all honestly, I had known that I would be doing this review before CVLT streamed it and purposefully didn’t listen to it at that point. After hearing such great things about this young project, I wanted to have some personal time with this band without having a predetermined concept of them. After I hit play on my laptop and sat back, I was immediately ushered into the sound of a collapsing universe. So like I said, if you missed your chance on this one, sit back, clench your asshole and bear witness to the darkened birth of Keeper.
“The King” is the first half of this dense ride, a seventeen minute track that drives it’s way through your ears and heart. With what could be compared to a Neurosis Enemy of the Sun/Through Silver in Blood-influenced opening, Keeper immediately display a deft hand and understanding of creating atmosphere between the spaces of distortion and feedback. In fact, this first song had me rather stunned as to the level of complexity they have created within a genre that can often be, well, boring at times. I’ve always had a love/hate affair with Doom Metal, shunning some projects that lack any real emotional investment in their music. Keeper are not one of those projects and proudly show it off on this song, composing a soundtrack to witnessing the initial phase of a dying star. About halfway through the song, they break into a depressive, almost shoegaze interlude that pulls at the emotional heart of the song. Again, for a Doom metal band to have this kind of weight and pull behind their music absolutely speaks volumes as to what future releases will sound like. Keeper’s vocalist should be taken note of, splattering this song with long a long, high pitched shriek that immediately had me comparing him to Ihsahn’s earlier works with Emperor, especially In the Nightside Eclipse. Seriously, this dude has one hell of witch-being-burnt-alive voice and it suits the music perfectly, adding a layer of scorn and hate to their already existing heaviness.
Upon the completion of “The King,” one is led by the hand via feedback into their next song “The Fool.” If the previous song was the initial phase of a dying star, “The Fool” would be the inevitable sound and scene afterwards of a supernova turning into a black hole. The majority of the song itself follows a much more typical Doom Metal formula, which I don’t mean in a bad way. It just has a much more traditional approach in terms of the song structure and what one can expect from it. Slow, drawn-out crushing riffs and simple, plodding drums swirl around around you as Keeper delve into the darker side of their vision. Which really says something about the depth of their sound and what they can create together. Regardless of the pace, it’s a soul-sucking song, that leaves their fingers wrapped around your throat long after its almost ethereal, noisy ending. Their trademark guitar sound of planets crashing into each other matched by the howling, wendigo-like vocals are all over this piece and they never really stray from what we’ve seen them do best, which is crushing your skull with moments of extreme, drawn out frustration and hopelessness. With a much sicker, slowed down assault when compared to the previous song, “The Fool” plays out almost like the slow withdrawing of a syringe after the initial injection of heroin into your vein.
Keeper pull out a torturous take on Doom metal with this release and should be immediately checked out if you’re looking for a project that is going to be making some waves in the near future. Highly recommended for fans of Grief, Yob and Neurosis, The Space Between Your Teeth is a fantastically heavy voyage into the realms of despair and regret. This one took me by surprise every time I listened to it over the last week, as there is something even more sinister around every corner to be discovered. I would highly recommended Keeper to anyone seeking out a fresh take on what can often be a really, really over-played genre. It’s not often that one comes across a project so young and unknown, yet so confident in their approach and delivery. A perfect companion piece to late night battles with insomnia and depression, I have a feeling that this isn’t going to be the last time we’ll be hearing such massive, sonic devastation from this project.