In 2012, an international team of scientists began preparations to mount a massive expedition to drill past the Earth’s crust in order to reach the mantle; seeking a way, in their words, to “grind their way through ultra-hard rocks.” If the approximate $1 billion budget is approved they could begin as early as the 2020s. And if this for-now theoretical expedition manages to achieve their goal, I suspect they will find the rumbling giant that is the bottom end of Pyre, the debut from New Hampshire’s new sludge/doom lords Green Bastard.
Roiling the dark sediment that laid the foundation for undulating giants like Sleep and Yob, Green Bastard’s three tracks run the gamut of filthy, scuzzed out doom. Opener “Thoros” lumbers out of the marsh with frontman Spencer Benson’s deafening bass, increasing in menace with every repeat of the riff. The drums slowly pick up on the dread until, in a squeal of feedback, the entire song rises up and kicks into a soupy, fuzzed out overdrive, riding a wave of groove and harmony thanks to the thick guitar lines of Max Arbuckle and Benson’s vocals, which range from anguished howls to a plaintive, sonorous wail. The track moves methodically from early Torche to fuzzed out 70s solo space exploration, all the while keeping the feeling of inevitable drive front and center.
If the job of “Thoros” is to introduce the world to what Green Bastard can bring to the doom table, “Cyclopean Walls” is the main feast, a 21 minute dirge that shambles from the primordial ooze until about the halfway point, where it ceases shambling and starts charging headlong into a nasty stomp, drummer Ethan Fortin keeping everything together as guitar and bass trade off lines before devolving by song’s end into a mass of feedback and noise, an aural portrait of an Older God settling back into the sea. Closer “Green Dream” takes a more meditative approach, the cymbal work accentuating a quiet tale detailing the suffering of a clairvoyant. If “Thoros” echoes the work of Sleep, “Green Machine” reaches out to the post-Sleep work of Om, using the space between each bass note to draw a line to the cosmos. It’s the calm after the storm, Benson doing some of his strongest singing on the record. As the song rises and falls the trio work with and against each other, letting the tension ebb and flow until the end is cut short just as another swirl of feedback grows.
There aren’t many bands who can rip a 21 minute song out and keep you vested for the entire run time; it’s a rarer band that can pull it off with an entire album. Green Bastard comes forth completely aware of their musical ancestry and determined to carve out their own path. In Pyre they’ve crafted a monolithic debut that might do just that.