Label: No Good To Anyone Productions
Release Date: 29 October 2021
Format Reviewed: Digital Download
A humming intro of distortion leads into an ominous rumbling overlaid with roaring, distorted vocals that rise in intensity before, BAM huge, hammering drums come down like an avalanche. While the pounding continues, dissonant blasts of guitar cut through like ice. And that’s just the first 3 minutes of the opening track.
Bishop, the self-titled debut release by the mysterious French entity Bishop is the latest release on No Good To Anyone Productions, the label of Fabien W. Furter, frontman of the excellent, but sadly now disbanded Wheelfall. And this brooding, bleak and stark 38min 4 track blast of apocalyptic sludge metal is a more than worthy addition to the label’s catalogue. In fact, the album is being jointly released on three labels (the other two being Specific Recordings and Neutral Records) with CD, vinyl, and cassette editions being handled one by each respectively (you can pick up a digital copy at name your price from any of the labels on the links at the bottom of the review).
With information on the band members limited, each track untitled and the cover art centred around an unsettling, grainy black and white image that might be cobwebs lain over a tomb, (or indeed whatever your imagination generates while you descend into the dark void of this auditory barrage) there is absolutely nowhere to focus but the music and oh boy does the music absolutely pack a meaty punch.
After the album’s intense opening minutes the bass and guitars of Track I morph into a solid mass of volcanic rock, as vocal growls emanate from deep within the earth. Here, as on the rest of the album, the formula is simple, but effective, bass and guitar are fused together in one huge, overdriven, crashing mass of pounding sludge riffing, with sledgehammer drumming and howling vocals filling out this grim, dark landscape (while occasional synths and ringing guitar notes add dour textures).
Slowing down the pace, Track II starts out like Young God-era Swans, heavy on the overdrive and distortion and sparse, slow skull-splitting drums, the track gradually picking up pace with furious, rapid fire percussive bursts and what may be synths in the background blasting an ominous note like rotten, poison spores.
Despite the never-relenting grimness in tone, the band deftly vary the presentation from one track to the next. Track III (the shortest here at just under 6 min) starts out with the drummer laying down a glistening pattern of ride cymbal before the inevitable, furious battery of drums and gloomy riffing, that slowly builds in equally gloomy, atmospheric layers of synth. It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to say this in a review, but one key reference point to the music on this album: Through Silver In Blood by Neurosis (in particular the epic apocalyptic outro of Aeon). This association springs up as Track III builds and builds in its hypnotic crescendo and once again on the near-14 minutes of the closing Track IV, which features both some of the album’s heaviest and most atmospheric passages (another reference point of peak-Neurosis comes from the great dynamics between the brooding atmospherics and hypnotic batteries).
There’s a very specific itch that I find myself afflicted by from time to time. It’s that itch for grim, apocalyptic, volcanic fury in atmospheric sludge form. It’s been a while since I heard a new record that scratched that itch. Bishop well and truly does that. This album is a grim little hidden gem. Highly recommended for those who like their metal drawn from the existential void. 8.5/10 Tom Boatman
Specific Recordings (for vinyl)
Neutral Records (for cassette)
8.5/10 To greatness and glory!
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