Light your candles, sharpen your ceremonial knives and grab a goat in preparation for a sacrifice to the Elder Ones here, people. Drouth have deemed our world worthy to partake in these profane and strangely enchanting tracks. Formerly known as Contempt, this Portland-based band have shed their previous moniker like snake its skin. As a declaration and celebration of this even darker incarnation, allow me grab a scalpel and dissect this necrotic corpse for you all. Be warned, however: this release is only three songs, with the second being an instrumental track sandwiched between the other two. But lack of content really doesn’t matter, as what we are glimpsing is the funeral shroud being pulled back for just a brief peek is what these fiends are concocting for us in the near future.
“Vast, Loathsome” opens this one up, and honestly, the title is an apt description of what is about to be unleashed – from the quiet opening that sets a feeling of dread and misery to the screech of feedback that shatters it’s way across your ears and announces the arrival of this demonic entity. Drouth slowly warm up their war-machines until they explode in a flurry of blast beats and hellish vocals that result in a declaration of war against heaven. The band shows an amazing aptitude for playing modern-sounding Black Metal, which is fully on display for the majority of this song. What really caught me off guard, however, was the decisive moment following the deconstruction of their sound and style towards the end of the track. It’s as if they have taken their twist on Black Metal and infused it with the crushing riffs that Canadian thrashers Ire and The Black Hand forged in the late nineties and early periods of the new millennium. A gargantuan riff that was designed to lay waste to civilizations. A passage so fucking powerful and massive that it would force Kurt Ballou to run and seek shelter under the weight of its sound. The band really just clicks on this part in every way possible. Between the top-notch drum work, the earth-shattering guitars, the deep, almost volcanic rumbling of the bass and the otherworldly vocals, Drouth sold themselves to me with such ease by the time the song finished, leaving me shell-shocked and in utter disbelief of just how fucking huge this band sounds.
After the chaotic mess and destruction left behind by their opening number, Drouth show off a different side to themselves on the instrumental piece entitled “Orb Weaver.” A full on drop into a realm devoid of light and seeped in melancholy that oozes out of the track. From the quiet, solemn guitar to the looped backwards sound effects that slowly begin to be over taken by a rush of white noise. Initially, I found it a little odd that they decided to include an instrumental track on this release, as they could have just had another song. But after a few listens to it, “Orb Weaver” actually grew on me and seemed to hint at something even more sinister lurking around the corner…
I was absolutely ravenous to dig into what Drouth were going to unleash upon me after the instrumental track. “Nine Circles By Starlight” wastes no time when it comes to melting faces, sparked by the opening few seconds of bass and drums followed in suit by a crust-influenced guitar slide that transitions into a vicious blast of pure, hate-filled Black Metal. From here on out, Drouth continue to gnaw at your throat like a frenzied, rabid wolf. After a few listens to this track, it occurred to me just how many tricks this band has up their collective sleeve. They pull from a number of different bands’ styles and bend them with their dark will around their own vision. The Cobalt style of war/black-metal that bursts out of the seams around the minute and half mark is a passage that needs to be paid attention to, as it transitions flawlessly into another rib-crushing section that cements just how devilishly clever this band is. They even push themselves a little further into some Doom territory for a few, brief moments. By the time “Nine Circles By Starlight” closes, it’s obvious that not only did it hold itself against the first track, it even gives it a run for its money.
For only releasing three songs and having switched band names, Drouth have issued forth a pretty strong first offering. So strong that I wouldn’t be surprised if these necromancers get some serious attention over the next few months. All three songs are carefully constructed and give a feeling that this band really enjoys playing together. Each track has its own vibe of hate, desolation and paranoia that makes extreme music like this so damn powerful and interesting. It’s rare to see a project this new display such an articulate and mature sound. There are bands out there who have worked years to achieve this level of sound, so to hear this little piece of filth that is chalk full of such intense moments of blood-curdling rage was an absolute surprise. While I know that these guys are going to be doing some touring over the next couple of months, I’m yearning to hear news of a proper full-length being worked on. Let’s hope that Drouth are submerged in the dark craft that is their writing process and preparing to reveal more of this vitriolic-filled, hymns to the night type of music.