ALBUM REVIEW: Centipede ‘Sarnath’

(Inverse Records, March 2016)

Inspired by the likes of High On Fire, Weedeater and Metallica, Centipede pummel your senses with their stomping stoner sludge. The debut album from this Finnish trio (following on from their ‘Tar Pit’ and ‘Brazen Bull’ EPs in 2012 and 2013 respectively) is a wholly enjoyable and convincing experience.

Deliriously pleasing guitar tones, muscular bass and cataclysmic drum work combine to create a rippling sound reminiscent of fellow stoner-thrash-doom acolytes Mage. And this particular arthropod is happy to slow right down and crawl into your soul, then speed up to trample it with a hundred heavy boots.

‘Sarnath’ is an impressively mature and potent debut; it sometimes lacks a degree of freedom or impulsiveness, but it’s always resolutely committed to its filthy cause. Take the track ‘Frostbite’, for example: there’s nothing wrong with this song as such, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Despite its great power and energy, it simply doesn’t quite take off. Unsurprising, really, that a centipede should remain earthbound.

Similarly, ‘Black Mead’ is a well-crafted beast of a song, a whirl of furious groove. But it lacks an element of the unexpected – a change of mood or new sonic dimension – that would elevate it closer to greatness. While Centipede create some serious stuff, it sometimes feels quite safe, maybe too neat.

Throughout the album’s eight tracks, the vocals of Markus Nurminen (who also plays guitar) sound like a cross between a mustard-gas-sucking WWII veteran and a rabid buffalo. His voice is dominant in the mix and can feel a bit repetitive, distracting from the monstrous riffs.

The album’s title track finds the band at their most adventurous, and here they create a triumphant six minutes of towering, sweeping doom metal that hints at what this young band might yet go on to achieve.

‘Sarnath’ is a bruising release that’s packed with enormous, churning riffs and sludgy, breathless vitriol.


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