‘Into The Unfathomable Abyss’
Candlelight Records (21 April 2014)
Some bands are slow, some are heavy, some are both. And others are so slow and so heavy that you feel the bottom falling out of your reality, as any glimmer of happiness disappears into a vast expanse of despair. Coltsblood are one such band. This is grim-as-death, nightmare-inducing sludge, its ferocity harnessed – just barely – behind a wall of numbing, bludgeoning distortion. Your speakers may end up feeling a little embarrassed that they cannot do justice to the doomed cacophony that Coltsblood stir up.
On ‘Into The Unfathomable Abyss’ you do not get a sense that Coltsblood are in this purely to be slower and more miserable than anyone else. Rather, they take great care to ensure that their songs are well constructed not only to maintain your attention but also to fire your imagination. Take, for example, the mournful guitar that rises from the gloom during the 14-minute behemoth ‘Beneath Black Skies’ – the wailing strings offer a melodic counterpoint to the otherwise incessant low-end horror. On another track, ‘Abyss Of Aching Insanity’, the sorrowful guitar solo is even more welcome, rescuing the song from potential stalemate and maintaining the album’s flow with guile and skill.
There’s also the dizzyingly fast, black metal-influenced ‘Blood’ – essentially two minutes of absolute mayhem – and the Viking-style, mid-tempo sections of ‘Ulfeonar’ which serve to demonstrate the diversity and sophistication of the band’s songwriting abilities. Coltsblood have been crafting entertaining slabs of woe since forming in the North of England in 2010, but it was not until this year that they signed to Candlelight Records in order to unleash their war machine on an unsuspecting population. Recorded at Skyhammer Studio with Chris Fielding (Primordial, Electric Wizard), the album was mastered by James Plotkin, who has worked with bands such as SunnO))), Indesinence and Isis.
While there are a few times when the agonised vocals sound slightly indistinct or predictable, the production is generally perfect for their requirements – Coltsblood’s sludgy filth makes most other bands sound like One Direction. The thunderstorm runs out of puff a little with the melancholic closing track ‘Return To The Lake Of Madness’ (a reference to their 2013 demo tape ‘Beyond The Lake Of Madness’) but overall this is a very consistent, impressive and sometimes overwhelming album. ‘Into The Unfathomable Abyss’ is a painful journey into the bleakest corners of human misery, but fear not, you’re in safe hands with Coltsblood.