Clocking in at 34 minutes for two songs, this transatlantic split record from California’s Keeper and the U.K.’s Sea Bastard will please fans of plodding, evil doom metal. It sounds like the two bands are competing to see who can stretch out their song more, as one side of the split is slow and the other is…slower. Both sides of the album meditate on the same riff for eight to ten minutes at a time, turning it over, inspecting it, wringing out every bit of feeling they can from it. It takes patience to listen to this split, but it’s worth it.
If you were a fan of Indian’s From All Purity, you’ll like this split—especially the Keeper side. Indian’s noisy, spiteful influence—along with that of other ugly doom bands like Cough, Old Man Gloom, and Primitive Man—is written all over it. Keeper’s track, “777” (which I’m pretending is a Blut Aus Nord reference) stays the same for nearly all of its 14 minutes. The same set of notes repeats in the background, with vocalist Jacob Lee spitting vitriol over the top. The lyrics are extremely visceral, with the image of the singer putting his “mouth to the cold tile floor” and throwing up standing out the most. It’s like a longer, slightly slower version of Indian’s “Directional”—an exercise in both repetition and in taking a song to its logical conclusion that becomes horrifying and exhausting by the end.
Sea Bastard’s contribution to the split, “Astral Rebirth,” has a few different movements and a touch of speed at the end after its impossibly slow beginning. It’s much further from atmospheric sludge than its title would lead one to expect, relying on a surprisingly minimal, buzzing guitar sound. The first eight minutes rest on the same riff, before a section of solo guitar that sounds almost improvised. The track ends by descending into noise. It’s a strong showing of doom metal that never wears out its welcome—even after more than 20 minutes.
If you’re like me, you like this kind of long, drawn-out doom sound; you see albums like Sleep’s Dopesmoker as endlessly entertaining rather than tedious, and find the sound of a down-tuned and heavily amplified guitar inherently pleasing. And if you’re like me, then this split’s for you. Terrific work from both bands.