Words by Carly Gibbs
20-ish years ago in Sweden, sometime in the late 90’s, three men bonded over a few beers, like many men before them, and a pact was made. Apart and each to their own, bands came and went, frustrations and passions were ignited and extinguished until 2014 when they came together once more and instantly reconnected with a renewed sense of maturity and direction and produced a killer self-titled album as Laser Dracul. Their bio says it best “Old school doom. Sludge rock. Provincial folklore retold in aural form”. Fast forward to today which sees the official worldwide release of their full-length follow-up album ‘Hagridden’ via Majestic Mountain Records and it is one sludgey doom nugget you should give a spin.
The first track Ashes and Dust opens with a swaggering bassline that leads you down into the swampy darkness like a moth to a flame. Michael Brander’s gravelly and gruff vocals are suited perfectly to this genre and bring depth to this record. It’s a very Black Sabbath vintage but with a sound that is still recognisable from now, whether this is to do with the age and experience of the band or their personal tastes, I’m not sure, but it is definitely a sound that I enjoy. The tempo change about 4 and a half minutes in takes me a little by surprise initially, but I readily welcome that bit of pace.
High Tide Striding is all kinds of dark and doom and gloom. I feel compressed under the weight of my cumbersome flesh and I can imagine a shadowy figure with long, filth encrusted, matted hair falling about its skeletal face staring menacingly at me. The introduction of the organ part way through is a great addition and ramps up that black mass vibe and imagery of a bloodied altar.
The driving drums and jangling percussion of Henrik Östensson takes Into the Night We Go to an elevated level from the tracks we’ve just heard. It’s familiar without sounding like a tired old rehash. It leads us into track five, Now You See It, which at 8 minute and 44 seconds long, feels a little bit too lengthy as, I feel, there’s nothing really notable about the track or any point of interest to deviate between parts throughout. In saying that, there isn’t anything actually wrong with the track. It’s a great track, I’m just not sure that it holds my attention for the duration. Maybe if I was sat in a dark, smoke-filled room, listening on headphones that would make an audiophile quake in their boots, my thoughts would be slightly different. But, alas, I am not.
After that brief moment, I am drawn back in with Ill in Spirit. This is it! It’s full of looming evil, with atmospheric screams, demonic organ, lyrics which are more chanted than sung and the fuzzy, gritty down-tuned riffs of Lars Bergfält.
The closing track on the album and I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed. Both Ill in Spirit and this track, Mother Midnight, have really kicked it up another level and it feels like the party is only just beginning. Full of opportunities to bang your doom riddled head, and will make those rooted in the world of rock very happy
There’s nothing that is reinventing the wheel here but it is a very solid offering by the Laser Dracul sludge-doom trio, one that I certainly will be delving into again. Even though the pact they made was nearly 20 years ago, realistically this is only their second release and so are a relatively new band. They have a large bag of tricks in which to draw from and I can imagine that they will only go up from here. This is for fans of Black Sabbath, Orange Goblin, Sleep and a myriad of other bands in the sludge, doom, stoner world, so if that is your thing, I highly suggest you jump on over and take a listen to ‘Hagridden’. It was released yesterday and you can find it via the links below.
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With thanks to Sheltered Life PR