Merchants of Air
exploring the edges of the musical universe
I am probably very biased, but of all the crossbreeds within the metal scene, I always find the ones that mix black metal into a different breed of metal the most interesting. Come to think of it, that goes for other genres that mix in black metal as well.. But enough about me.. Bast are a three-piece sludgeband from the United Kingdom (London to be exact) that mix doom, sludge, postrock and black metal into a very tasty dish. The good thing is that none of the parts feel tacked onto the other parts. It has a very organic feel to it and because every song almost seamlessly flows into the other the album acts as one big 45 minute track, albeit divided into 5 long parts.
Things start of on the faster side of things with 'In the Beginning' which has the typical, what I'd like to call UKBM sound. Reminds me of Altar Of Plagues and Winterfylleth. In fact, in general, Bast reminds me of Altar Of Plagues a lot, though Bast is noticeably more rooted in doom and sludge. But the whole thing with songs flowing into the other, the black metal parts and the feeling of urban decay and nature has quite a bit in common with Altar Of Plagues. The other tracks focus more on the sludge and doom side of things, to have the album end on a fast note again with the final track 'Outside The Circles Of Time'.
Both guitarist Craig Bryant and drummer Jon Lee perform vocal duties and they put a lot of variety in them. Black metal rasps, sludge bellows and soaring doom roars, it's all there. In fact, most of the sounds you can associate with the mentioned genres are present here. And that brings me to the album's actual downside. It's all a bit predictable. Throughout the whole album you never get the feeling of hearing something you've never heard before. It never feels memorable. Even the artwork has a bit of a déjà-vu feeling, like a slightly more minimal John Baizley. I called it a "very tasty dish" early in the review and I still stand by that. In general it is a very enjoyable album, it's just not very original. For myself, I like to eat tasty dishes every day, but I would really like to eat something amazing now and then.
So, in conclusion: Bast delivers the goods on this debut album. The engineering, mixing and mastering is done expertly by Chris Fielding of the mighty Conan and the album sounds suitably heavy. Craig Bryant's artwork might remind me of someone else's; it's still very, very nice. The guys are obviously very talented musicians and if they manage to focus on having a sound of their own I, for one, am very interested in their future albums.
Bonus points for ending the album on a very typical classic heavy metal note!