16th November 2016 – Midnight Werewolf Records
02. Cyclopean Walls
03. Green Dream
I review a lot of doom and sludge releases, and it’s always a treat when I get a band with a crackin’ name. Green Bastard is a fantastic title and a pretty good intro to their music; all I could think of was Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing. As it turns out, Swamp Thing would be a pretty good fit.
Green Bastard are all about playing around a groove. At three tracks – all between the 14-20-minute mark – it’s easy to get a little lost in Pyre, but the bass grooves generally stay consistent throughout which helps the record to focus. The overall vibe is thunderous stoner doom and it sounds great; the record hits a sweet spot between washed-out low-fi and coherent modern production. Many bands go too far into the DIY sound which runs the risk of muddying any ideas; I didn’t particularly find anything was lost in the mix here, though the overall length of songs means they do sail close to the wind.
There’s a strong 70s vibe running throughout; a straight blend of vintage doom and jam-band ethos. I wouldn’t be amazed to hear that none of the tracks were written beforehand; there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of architecture. In particular it sounds like there’s a lot of Iron Butterfly influence; it’s good to see a band go all-out for this kind of thing, and it is effective. Of particular note are the wailed vocals which have a particularly vintage feel; these only pop up occasionally but they’re an interesting angle of attack. Pyre has a few flourishes like this, but without really drifting too far from their grimy stoner-doom roots; there are some fun noise bits in the intro of “Thoros” and it would have been good to hear more of these elements featured.
There’s a real sense of personality to the three sprawling, overblown tracks. This comes from a sense of raw self-indulgence rather than constructed songs. There’s some variety at play but it’s mostly occasional tangents. Furthermore, when themes emerge in songs (some early motifs in “Thoros” do flare up again) they tend to get a little lost; there’s so much space in the tracks it’s hard to identify common elements. Despite this, the tracks succeed at being powerful and they’re pace-y enough to be interesting and engaging for their duration.
Self-indulgent though they may be, Green Bastard are straight-up about their presentation of doom in a jam band framework. Pyre stands up to a close listen but it’s best as a background album; a righteous doom soundtrack if not something to make time to listen to in isolation. This sounds a little harsh but they’re making this for themselves and the joy and passion is clear. This sits well with the recent slew of doom stuff, but at its heart it’s just 45 minutes of ripping, expansive, unfocussed muscle that sounds great. I had a great time.