Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bask - American Hollow

I read a lot of descriptions while scanning the web for music. Some from other like-minded fan’s recommendations, but mostly I go straight to the tags and descriptions to weed out stuff I don’t have time for. It’s about efficiency in today’s Internet music marketing. Well if I was in charge that’s what I’d focus on. Get a good slogan, have badass cover art to portray a visual of what the music might sound like and your odds are better off that folks will listen. If it sucks it sucks, and they’ll turn it off and not come back, but that first impression is a key element for me. My first impression upon getting the recommendation to check out Bask was textbook perfection in setting the hook deep into my soul. They snagged another fan instantaneously.

Describing themselves:

“With roots in americana, stoner metal and post-rock, Bask is turning out their own brand of doom. Psychedelic, heavy, and scenic songs weave through sections of driving riffs, thundering percussion, loose grooves and glimmering guitar. All topped with vocals that conjure spirits of old country crooners”

That had me intrigued on top of that wicked artwork on the cover of American Hollow. Love the shades and blends of yellows and reds, with a spooky scene containing deer antlers, owls, and some sort of witchy woman as the main focal point. I would classify this as top shelf album art and something I would want to see how it sounds by the art alone.

Now to the music. As much as I loved their description of themselves, I hate to say I only slightly agree. Or maybe I disagree with several other descriptions on the net I read. They all went for the western Americana, folk aspect that the band latently portrays. I’ll admit, that I too was mostly interested into how they would weave in an Americana vibe into post-metal/doom rock upon reading that and not having pushed play yet. To me it’s more in the lyrics than anything, and not much of an Americana vibe musically at all. The theme of the record fills the Americana description with the storyline involved, which suggests the band is into the old western landscape and spiritual folklore. I can dig that myself and is what I find so attractive about this album.

The album veers from acoustic passages on ‘A Man’s Worth’, to an ethereally atmospheric blend of post metal, stoner rock and an added psychedelic indie-rock flair in areas of vocal tones throughout. The guitars soar elegantly between harmonic chugs to progressively intricate passages. Vocals open up with a mystical vibe not unlike My Morning Jacket, but wearing a denim jacket sporting a beard and paired up with a metallic atmosphere veering from post-hardcore screams to laid back western tales of sorrow and alternative country musings.

I haven’t heard anything quite like this all year long, and I’ve listened to damn near a 1000 different albums at this point, mostly good, some great, and a few, like Bask, get the nod as being magnificent. I can’t quite pick a favorite song on the album as they are all equally special and have their own identity. At first I really fell in love with the closing track “Endless Summer” with its long drawn out build up into an absolutely gorgeous climax. Its like you’re listening to the angels of heaven riffing their blessings unto the true believers in rock and roll. I’ll go as far to say it reminded me of my AOTY from 2011, ‘Hands - Give Me Rest’ to an extent, which I recommend you check out if you haven’t listened. ‘Endless Summer’ is a stunning closing to an even more intriguing album. A must listen to band for open minded fans of rock, metal, indie, country, hardcore, etc…. Perhaps not for the average straight up metal head, or stereotypical stoner rock fan looking for the formulaic approach to their favorite sounds. Bask intelligently incorporate several styles together to produce a heavy as hell album that is soft and emotional around the edges, perhaps symbolized by those flower petals surrounding the cover art scene?

This could very well end up at the top of my favorite albums of the year at this point. You can stream/purchase the album on bandcamp, and also buy a vinyl copy of the record out on CrimsonEye Records here. I am anxiously awaiting my gold copy, which took no hesitation to purchase on my end.

-The Huntsman

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