CD REVIEW – AT THE MAW OF RUIN – by GREEN DRUID

by Aaron Gidney

Colorado’s Green Druid are shrouded in mystery according to their label, Earache Records. The band probably describe themselves best with this statement on their bandcamp page: “The cosmic death lingers ever closer, looming in the back of all of our minds, channeled through our amps, drums and guitars. Playing these riffs is a form of life affirmation to us. To remind us that we are still alive and we have the power to wield our pain through the catalyst of our instruments.” Heavy stuff, indeed.

Interestingly, whilst the riffs are bone-crushingly downtuned, sludgy and suitably doomy, the vocals are slightly juxtaposed – clean and almost ethereal. There seems be a trend within Doom Metal bands these days, which have more or less abandoned the pure death metal growled vocals – although there is plenty here for variety. The use of cleaner vocals amongst modern Doom bands such as Pallbearer, and particularly Green Druid add a ’70’s proto-metal authenticity – perhaps Planet Caravan was more influential than we first realised?! The chilled out vibe that comes with these clean, spaced-out vocals is certainly written with the listener in mind and giving them the opportunity to become err…spaced-out themselves…

The riffage is prototypical Doom, cut from the Sabbathian cloth that so many borrow from, albeit much slower – more akin to Cathedral’s classic debut, Forest of Equilibrium. You can feel the Mastodon-esque sludginess of those downtuned guitar strings shake the bowels at certain points, but there’s enough light and shade on here to provide a nice breather and take you into that jam-like psychedelic, spaced-out, ethereal territory.

The one thing that does put me off ever so slightly (and it’s a purely a preference thing), is where there are ‘guitar solos’ , they’ve opted for the reverb-drenched tremolo-picked single note lines akin to shoegaze. I guess it all adds to the atmosphere though.

The mix is great and doesn’t feel too brickwalled, as is often the case with downtuned sludge riffage – but the separation of the instruments is enough to make it sound huge but clear at the same time. The guitars are not overly saturated with gain and this certainly helps the overall EQ of the tracks, particularly where the guitars are double tracked. Multiple guitars are panned left and right and you can hear they are separate takes which adds to the thickness and the separation of instruments within the mix.

The follow-up to 2018’s debut, ‘Ashen Blood’, ‘At The Maw of Ruin’ solidifies the band as a force to be reckoned with for the future – a great slice of Doom/Sludge for fans of Sabbath, Pallbearer, Candlemass and Mastodon.

Tracks:

  1. The Forest Dark
  2. The End of Men
  3. Haunted Memories
  4. A Throne Abandoned
  5. Desert of Fury/Ocean of Despair
  6. Threads (Portishead Cover)

Online:

https://greendruid.bandcamp.com/music

https://www.facebook.com/greendruidband

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