Posts Tagged ‘Warhorse’
Posted on Tuesday, June 14th, 2011
Lovingly pinched from The Obelisk: Proffering doomed desolation with just an edge of riff worship and plenty of tonal brutality, Massachusetts trio Faces of Bayon leave a huge impression with their debut full-length, Heart of the Fire (Ragnarok Records). The Fitchburg outfit formed in 2008, recorded all of Heart of the Fire live in the studio and dedicate the finished product in memory of drummer Matt Davis, who died suddenly in January 2011. Mike Brown has since come aboard to handle drums, but on Heart of the Fire, it’s the band’s original three-piece, with Davis and bassist Ron Miles (Scattered Remnants) led by guitarist / vocalist Matt Smith, who did a stint in now-fabled outfit Warhorse prior to their 2001 As Heaven Turns to Ash LP.
Smith’s vocals characterize a lot of Heart of the Fire and situate Faces of Bayon in a ‘90s death / doom vein, a cut like second track ‘Ethereality’ bringing to mind a punchier version of early Paradise Lost or maybe even My Dying Bride without the violins or the drama. His growl – an exclusive approach across Heart of the Fire but for the quiet atmospheric piece ‘Godmaker’ – is throaty, gruff and mostly saturated in echoing reverb, setting a kind of misanthropic atmosphere to the songs, which deal lyrically in part with the fall of Lucifer.
However, Faces of Bayon are – most of all – ridiculously, floor-shakingly, chest-rattlingly heavy. From Miles’ ultra-low bass that kicks in 12-minute opener ‘Brimstoned’ from under Smith’s feedback, to the righteously riff-led groove of ‘The Original Sin’, the three-piece taps into a weight of tone few ever attain, and manage to carry it through Heart of the Fire sounding clear, confident and in complete control.
Heads who recognize the name Warhorse or who dug the wretched atmospheres once affected by Winter will take demented pleasure in most of Heart of the Fire and the balance Faces of Bayon strike between their heavy influences. ‘Brimstoned’ never loses sight of the nastiness of tone with which it begins, Miles and Davis following Smith’s riff as it leads them lower into some unknowable abyss, but at the same time, underneath that thickened and deathly distortion, there’s a current of groove running that’s both purely American in its style (distinguishing Faces of Bayon from the European end of the genre as typified by the Paradise Lost comparison above) and what manages to most hook the listener.
Even as the song breaks into a quiet passage with whispered growls and quieter guitar lines – it’s a setup, they get heavy again soon enough – that groove is maintained, and it’s at the core of a lot of the success of Heart of the Fire.