After the unfortunate “ancient goiter” imagery Olde Growth’s name immediately installed in my head (I just pictured a bearded, yellow-toothed bulge protruding from a wizard’s neck), listening to their new EP (nicknamed the Owl EP) is one of the most pleasant listening experiences I’ve had in some time. Olde Growth plays traditional doom with untraditional energy, blasting out catchy, sludgy hooks as a miraculously thick bass-and-drum team that craft songs five piece bands dream of weaving. As a band deeply inspired by the “awe inspiring relics of the natural world,” their sound is as diverse as the weather of each New England season, heavier than a Redwood, and darker than the same tree’s shadow at midnight. If you ever listened to Witchfinder General and thought to yourself, “This is totally decent but could use occasional throaty screams and enough bass to inspire seismic faults” then this album is waiting to be your favorite release of the year.
Every band living somewhere in Doomlandia lives or dies by its riffs. With the Owl EP and their self-titled LP both as evidence, Olde Growth sits at the top of the riff food chain, preying on the weaker bands who equate anything slow and loud to successful doom. From the opening minute of “Brother of the Moon” Stephen LoVerme has pushed aside all doubt that this band is anything but totally dedicated to writing songs, not just whatever barely disguised Pentagram B-sides they could scream over and release as their own. These songs dip and swell like an angry tide, they blossom in the sun and grow thorns unexpectedly. There is a lush, organic feeling to these songs that occasionally distract you from how god damn heavy it all is. Amidst the dominant bass and fantastic drumming interplay (performed with exceptional wild energy by Ryan Berry) it’s actually LoVerme’s vocals that give this music incredible texture and appeal. “Tears of Blood” is the best example of his skill, where he delivers soulful hooks that escalate the heavy drive of the bass into pop territory before accompanying the gruff, somber chords of splintered doom spanning the song’s final minute with tortured screams of terrifying conviction.
Speaking of “Tears of Blood,” this is the type of song that recruits listeners to give heavy music a real chance. Powerful, melodic, expertly played and sung, all without sacrificing aggression. The song is intense and haunting, memorable from the slamming bass to the smooth croon to the raw, sludgy conclusion. It’s rare to find a heavy band that can so easily connect with listeners outside the ranks of existing metal fans while remaining “true” to the ears of the most seasoned doom veterans.
Boston may not be the first place you think of when you picture natural wonders but after listening to Olde Growth I’d be convinced that through their jamming space window they see waterfalls taller than skyscrapers, clouds clinging low to fields of twenty-foot tall corn stalks, and woodland so thick the only way to cross the forest is to climb branch to branch. Kyuss may have perfected psychedelic doom perfect for the desert and all its creatures, but Olde Growth are playing doom speaking for and to the trees and mountains. From the pummel and roar of “Warrior Child” to the ominous crunch of “Edge of the Sea,” Olde Growth cultivate blue ribbon winning riffs so large they out-weigh any other riff you may see at the county fair.
One of my favorite Monty Python sketches involves a married couple discussing the differences between “woody” and “tinny” words. The idea is that the pronunciation determines the substance a word would be made of. Everyone in the scene agrees that woody words are superior. Now, with Olde Growth as one of the very best examples, we can see the superiority of woody metal as well. Venture through whatever forest is between you and this EP and listen to it obsessively as the seasons change faces and the trees extend further into the sky, you’ll never feel closer to the earth, or heavy metal.
Listen to Olde Growth here for FREE, with links to their website and Facebook pages: http://oldegrowth.bandcamp.com/
And order their debut LP through Hydro-Phonic Records, who will also be handling the vinyl release of this amazing EP, here: http://www.hydro-phonicrecords.com/releases.html