Tampa, FL may not seem like the doom capital of the world, with their sunshine and delicious oranges and all that, but then a band like Servants of the Mist comes along with Suicide Sex Pact, an EP so bleak and filthy that it blocks the light traveling from dying stars and rots fruit from the trees.
From the opening uneasy clean singing of a passage from “Jesus Loves Me,” which captures the same creepy melancholia as Harvey Milk’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s “One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong,” Servants of the Mist create a world where light is long-extinct and hope’s been violently snuffed. Album opener “Absence” introduces their scorched funeral doom, which sounds like the aural equivalent of finger painting with urn ash on a canvas of stretched skin torn from a dead priest’s back. This sort of pitch-black doom inspires thoughts of Bongripper and Cough, mixed with the drama of early My Dying Bride.
“Behind the Curtain” continues the band’s glacial determination with uncompromising heaviness. I wasn’t able to truly conceive of canyons being carved by icy structures until I heard the riff in this song. It feels a little like Evoken, if their songs were trapped in endless hallucinogen-fueled night terrors. The lead guitar in this song and album closer “Suicide Sex Pact” didn’t feel totally committed, with wavering hints of bluesy groove that fizzle instead of sizzle. This is the only aspect of the latter two songs that make me question if they totally earn the song length (none of the songs are briefer than 9 minutes). Fortunately, I’m willing to forgive 2 minutes among 30 when the rest of the album features guitar fuzz thicker than a blanket used to smother plague victims in their sleep. Richard Smyth Jr.’s vocals could scrape muscle from bone like an autopsy instrument, with curdling shrieks and meaty growls that give way to a no-wave gothic chant about 25 minutes into the album for a brief reprieve from ferocity. The breakdown of slow motion death rock slams back into relentless tomb-smashing doom before the feedback lifts like smoke and dust, revealing a pile of lifeless nude bodies.
With audio collage work reminiscent of Eyehategod’s more experimental passages and a muscular, bass-heavy attack that invokes Primitive Man and Conan, Suicide Sex Pact should interest fans of the loud, mean, and ugly. Maybe those aren’t adjectives I’d use on a dating profile, but when it comes to extreme metal, that’s love at first sight.
Go check out Servants of the Mist on Facebook and follow their updates as release information surfaces for Suicide Sex Pact: https://www.facebook.com/servantsofthemist
Check out a preview of the title track over here: https://soundcloud.com/hbnbm/servants-of-the-mist-suicide