Bathsheba, the newly formed band from Belgium, carries a lot of the scene’s DNA in its lineup. The history of the individual members goes into some of the more interesting releases of the extreme metal genre of the past years, including ex-Serpentcult vocalist Michelle Nocon, Dwight Goosens of death metal act Disinterred, Raf Meukens of Death Penalty and Jelle Stevens of, the under appreciated, SardoniS. With such a pedigree you can get an idea of what you are in for, and the band has already showcased elements of their approach with a first demo and the The Sleeping Gods EP.
What comes in at the start of this new record, Servus, might trick you into thinking you are walking into an old fashioned doom album, a calling for heavy riffs, drenched in the genre’s Sabbath-ian essence. But “Of Fire” acts simply as the opening act of this journey, and soon enough more elements begin to come to the front. The band carries on down this path, causing slight mutations of their sound, moving toward the occult doom/rock movement, enacting a dark theatrical play, before switching gears and bringing in a bit of Serpentcult in, with the more furious and faster parter reminiscent of Weight of Light.
Svart Records Release: 24 February 2017
But Servus does not have a single gear, it is not a straightforward doom record that will simply keep pummeling down with heavy riffs and slow tempo. The band picks up the pace, diving into a recital of fury and mayhem, dwelling in extreme metal regions – as in “Ain Soph” for example, taking a blackened or even death metal nature, something that might be due to Goosens’ death metal roots. That is not all, though, and these guys prove they can take a different route as well, with parts of the album radiating a pagan overtone, an almost Bathory-ian element, where expansive soundscapes bring an epic feeling, as in “At The End of Everything.”
This is an album that is hard to pin down. Its fluid structure is able to pass with ease through many different variations.The heavy doom, occult rock and extreme metal aspects interchange, while Nocon does a wonderful job throughout of accommodating all these different influences. The more stunning addition, however, is the inclusion of the saxophone in “Ain Soph,” wonderfully forcing the track in an infernal chamber music rendition, a recital of surrealism, where all elements melt away. This is what Servus is. A record cascading with doom metal, but with a lot more going on beneath the surface.