Distributor/Label: Svart Records
Released: March 27th 2015
Buy Album: http://svartrecords.com/shoppe/home/2973-pombagira-flesh-throne-press-2cd.html
Band Website: http://www.pombagira.org.uk/
Peter Hamilton-Giles: vocals, guitar
Carolyn Hamilton-Giles: drums
1. In The Silence
2. The Way
3. Blessed Are the Dead
6. Time to Stone
7. Ash to Flesh
8. Sorcerous Cry
9. I Curse I Pray
10. Soul Seeker
11. Cold Descent
12. Flesh Throne Press
13. Yesterday’s Tomorrow
The psychedelic movement, revered by beatniks and hippies, reached its zenith in the late Sixties and early Seventies, but in truth, it never really went away. It’s been there, bubbling away with ex-hippies, neo-hippies and ‘never really stopped being’ hippies, as well as in other alternative subcultures such as Nineties ravers, and even in the occasional resurgences of late Sixties art and fashion.
The main arena has always been the music scene, however. Bands such as Pink Floyd, The Stone Roses and even Black Sabbath have kept the psychedelic flame burning up until the present day.
One band that has recently began proudly displaying their love of psychedelia is London-based duo Pombagira. When they formed in 2007, this husband and wife team (with occasional session bassist) were more of a stoner/doom cross than anything else. Albums such as Crooked Path and Baron Citadel showcased vocalist/guitarist Peter Hamilton-Giles and drummer wife Carolyn’s talents perfectly, being chock-ful of dark, stormy, almost black metal-tinged stoner rock.
2012’s double album Malefica Lamiah took a rather unexpected left turn, sounding less doomy and altogether trippier and more expansive. At roughly the same time the band announced that they were taking a step back from touring, as they simply found it too difficult to replicate their sound in a live setting to their satisfaction.
And that was that…until now. The announcement that Pombagira were not only releasing a new album (again a double, entitled Flesh Throne Press) but were embarking on a very limited set of tour dates to promote it caused many an ear to prick up on the underground scene.
The album, with its overarching themes of death and necromancy (the title refers to grave soil pressing on a body as it is being buried) loosely ties in with Peter Hamilton-Giles’ soon-to-be-released book ‘Grimoire of Baron Citadel’, as it links to both the lyrical content and the general morbid psychedelic feel of the album. As with Malefica Lamiah, it will be released on both double CD and vinyl.
So what does an album recorded by a former doom/stoner rock, now psychedelic band sound like? Opener ‘Into the Silence’ is a perfect indicator: at times lush and expansive, but also deep and bass-heavy, it’s a sort of fuzzy, drone-y, almost bluesy number. Virtually all of the band’s previous incarnation has vanished, including the growling metal-style vocals of previous albums, to be replaced by a rather unsettlingly trippy, piercing vocal performance, reminiscent of the likes of Ozzy Osborne.
Pombagira have always written quite lengthy songs, going right back to their first album. This time, however, they’ve again broken new ground by including a scattering of short, almost bridge-like tracks, such as ‘Time to Stone’ and ‘Ash to Flesh’, which are almost a matched pair, as well as ‘I Curse I Pray’ and ‘Soul Seeker’. The former is a real album highlight in fact; ‘I Curse I Pray’ is a doomy, chugging, rather snarly number with strong elements of fuzz rock, resulting in the most cohesive song on the album.
As is to be expected of this genre, most of the songs are, of course, rather meandering and unstructured. The band seem to have chosen various elements of their sound and given all of them their time to shine. Thus we have a strong vocal performance on the whispering, intense ‘Blessed Are the Dead’, the drum-heavy, ominous ‘Gather’ and the twangy, guitar-laden ‘Sorcerous Cry’ – the latter, as the heaviest track, also contains the most substantial links to their previous sound.
In truth, Pombagira have always leaned towards the more trippy, sprawling side of music, even as a doom band. Flesh Throne Press, however much of a departure in may be from their roots, also feels like a natural progression for this band. One senses that vocalist (and author) Hamilton-Giles must be a deeply intelligent, esoteric and, well, interesting person, based on his creative output.
This is not the album to listen to in order to get pumped up and ready for a night out. It is however, the ultimate in eerie, ominous and spacey psychedelia, 2015 style. So if you ever wondered what would have happened if Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath ever jammed – listen to Flesh Throne Press, relax, and enjoy. Peace out.
Pombagira play Doom Over London on April 4th