Heavy. What does it mean when discussing music? It is a nebulous term at best. For some, it is hyper-fast, aggressive, with harsh vocals. For others, it is down-tuned 8 string guitars with sick breakdowns. Yet others may think of slow, ponderous tunes.
And you know what? They are all right.
That’s part of what is fun about heavy music. There is a type of “heavy” for almost every mood. Some days, I’m looking for “Underneath the Waves” but Strapping Young Lad. Other days it’s “Rational Gaze” by Meshuggah. But when I really want heavy-as-a-two-ton-heavy-thing, can’t breathe it’s so heavy, being suffocated at the floor of the ocean, I turn to Mammoth Storm.
I became familiar with Mammoth Storm in 2015 with the release of their first full-length, Fornjot. And, finally, this year, they followed up with their second release, Alruna. And both are mammoth (pun intended) slabs of doom. Alruna is replete with low, chugging guitars, with a powerful rumble in the rhythm section. Vocals are clean, but with a raspy quality. And this stuff is slow.
Now, not quite funeral doom slow. I mean, we’re talking about more than 2-4 bpm here. But, unlike some doom metal (some Candlemass songs, some Khemmis tunes, to name a few), Mammoth Storm doesn’t ever speed things up. And the effect is profound. This is the soundtrack for the bottom of the ocean. This is the music of gravity slowly increasing, pulling you with more and more force to the ground. This is crushing music. But the slow crush of gradually being pressed to death, not the sudden crush of something along the lines of Misery Index.
And the guitar tone! I could go on and on about the guitar tone. It is full, rich, with a distortion that just screams “DOOM”. It builds the atmosphere of each song. At times, pulled back, other times, full throated and burly. This is the sound of guitars that know that music has power, that it can move people. This is the sound of guitars that know music can change the world. I don’t know exactly how they get this tone, but it is marvelous and I find myself wanting more.
Alruna is a great album. The songs are lengthy, given room to grow and build, without ever overstaying their welcome. The production fits the music excellently. It is clear enough to hear what is happening, but has just a little layer of grit over the top that helps with the sense of heaviness. I still prefer Fornjot over Alruna, but more Mammoth Storm is always a good thing, and I’ll gladly take what I can get.