Review & Track Premiere: Beneath Oblivion, The Wayward and the Lost

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[Click play above to stream ‘Satyr’ from Beneath Oblivion’s The Wayward and the Lost. Album is out March 27 on Weird Truth Productions.]

The sludge that Beneath Oblivion elicit is nothing less than a destructive force. While the Midwest and particularly Ohio is known for the unhinged, pill-added fuckall proffered by the likes of Fistula and their many offshoots and related outfits, 2018 marks a decade and a half of the Cincinnati-based troupe’s onslaught, and they celebrate with the issue through Japanese imprint Weird Truth Productions of their first full-length in seven years. Last heard from with 2011’s From Man to Dust, the woeful foursome return to apply roughly that same ethic to the five-track/64-minute churn of The Wayward and the Lost. It lurches. It crushes. It creates a sonic and emotional miasma from which it feels like there’s no escape.

Its depression runs deep through extended tracks like opener “The City (My Mausoleum)” (15:12) and “The Liar’s Cross” (13:47), and is immersive in its atmospheric punishment as founding guitarist/vocalist Scott Simpson leads the way through the molasses trudge. Granted, it’s been over half a decade, so one shouldn’t necessarily be surprised at some measure of stylistic shift, but Beneath Oblivion‘s approach on the whole throughout The Wayward and the Lost is more atmospheric than either of its two predecessors, From Man to Dust or 2006’s Existence Without Purpose, both of which were released through The Mylene Sheath and had more of a post-hardcore spirit than shown in the droning extremity of The Wayward and the Lost even in its shortest track, the penultimate “Savior-Nemesis-Redeemer” (7:21), which precedes ultra-lurching closer “Satyr” itself an all-consuming 16:20 of aural quicksand. Revelry in brutality; brutality in excess.

Taken in the context of the recent triumph of darkness that was Bell Witch‘s 2017 offering, Mirror Reaper, it’s perhaps not surprising to learn that The Wayward and the Lost was also helmed by Billy Anderson (Acid KingNeurosis, etc.), as its blend of claustrophobic tonality from Simpson and Allen Scott — who also adds to the liberal amount of drones and noise included throughout these tracks — though the bulk of the basic material seems to have been put to tape in 2015 by SimpsonScott, bassist Keith Messerle and drummer Nate Bidwell with further grim flourish added after the fact.

beneath oblivion and billy anderson

One can hear the effects of that as drones and echoes fill out the reaches of the otherwise minimalist, extreme and excruciating “Satyr” at the album’s finish, but from “The City (My Mausoleum),” which opens with a deceptive innocent melancholy of guitar and eerie cymbal wash, the threat of violence is never completely absent. Unlike most of The Wayward and the Lost, “The City (My Mausoleum)” in its early going feels specifically indebted to Neurosis via YOB, but by the time Beneath Oblivion build into their first slow-motion rollout and engulfing, nod-topping screams, their course through sludge-laden cruelty seems set, and while their approach is by no means unipolar — that is, the screams and growls and lumber and pummel dissipate in favor of trades into sparse lines of guitar, swells of volume emerging in a dynamic back and forth interplay — they’ve already somewhat subtly begun the work that will continue throughout the subsequent tracks.

Now, it’s important to keep in mind that, as regards subtlety and Beneath Oblivion, it’s probably not the first word that’s going to come to mind, what with the unmanageable 64 minutes of punishment that The Wayward and the Lost carries across with such ferocity and patience, but as grueling and intense as these songs can be, there’s a sense of exploration within them as well. That comes through in the pre-midsection of “The Liar’s Cross” and in the rolling “Savior-Nemesis-Redeemer,” which might be the most straightforward inclusion here from Beneath Oblivion by whatever standard one might want to apply. Again, all things are relative. The impulse with a band like Beneath Oblivion is to cast them as misanthropes, as a kind of four-man counterculture working against the norms of songcraft and accessibility.

Well, I’m perfectly willing to grant that The Wayward and the Lost is about as audience-friendly as a carpenter’s nail through the skull when taken front to back, but to separate the group from what it is to be human and especially what it is to be human in the varied age of wonders and horrors in which we live cheats the band of perhaps one of the most crucial elements of their expression. A group doesn’t just come back after seven years and put out a record if they don’t have something do say, and with the stated theme of addiction, The Wayward and the Lost explores a pivotal aspect of this moment, but even if one wants to take it on a less analytical, more impressionistic level, it shows us the depths to which our minds can go that more often than not we’re more afraid to plunder. The growth the band has undertaken that has allowed them to do so is no less evident than the volume of their delivery, and in Beneath Oblivion‘s maturity there is a focus of intent that belies the album’s title. We may be wayward, lost, but the band has every idea of how they want to represent that, and in their success, they cast depths and spaces the harshness of which reflects our own cruelties and apathy back at us.

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One Response to “Review & Track Premiere: Beneath Oblivion, The Wayward and the Lost

  1. […] te povezave lahko premierno prisluhnete skladbi Satyr. Ta bo del prihajajo?ega albuma ameriške sludge/funeral […]

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