I’ve been sent a tip from Devouter Records, the UK based Doom purveyors, alerting me to the imminent release of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, drone-pysch-doom-metal trio MAKE’s debut album ‘Trephine’ on July 30th. I’ve just driven home from Stansted airport – an hour’s journey in the car – listening to Thorun‘s excellent ‘Chorus of Giants’ ep, followed by Conan‘s ever more mesmerising ‘Monnos’. So you can imagine the thick, dark clouds of doom that already surrounded me as I sat down at the Mac and clicked ‘play’ on this new release. Boy, it really does bring a new level of doom to the word Doom!
A nine-track album, ‘Trephine‘ delivers slow, heavy stoner doom in spades. The mandatory growl of the downtuned guitar and bass intimidates, whilst the listener is led into further uncertainty by the hovering, ethereal sound effects that resemble rogue spirits flying malevolently around some hot, parched post apocalyptic landscape. The official story from Devouter actually makes it sound even more disturbing than I have already made out:
“With themes covering the concept of mortality, the infinity of death and the fragility of life, ‘Trephine’ is an assured debut that firmly stamps MAKE’s mark on the post-metal map.
After the death of a peer, MAKE guitarist Scott Endres (who also played on Horseback’s ‘The Invisible Mountain’ record) took to writing a concept album about a hospital resident regressing into a fantasy state after a psychological breakdown. This fantasy state is represented by a post-apocalyptic world, while the journey the protagonist embarks upon is hopefully the means to an end; his or her own personal trepanning.”
That’s not the kind of press release that Coldplay’s label are ever likely to put out, is it? Trepanning, in case you are not ‘au fait’ with such practices, is the drilling of a hole in one’s skull, in order to release the pressure on the brain and – it is said – achieve a higher state of awareness.
This is a collection of varied, skilfully played songs that are genuinely atmospheric, melodic in parts, heavy as all get out in other parts, and to be honest – in some places – so utterly desolate and disturbed that you wonder if the sun will ever shine again. But later passages hint at what I can only presume is some kind of redemption that the band hope to find in this bleak soundscape, and the black clouds part to offer some brighter rays of optimism. The musical variety you get makes the album entirely listenable and the songs approach an epic quality in places, making this a case of the sum being much more than the parts.
This is a massive, involving and really quite mesmerising release and well worth a listen, but be warned, you won’t come out the other side and want to chat cheerily about the weather with your next door neighbour!