Saturday, 26 February 2011

Sevenchurch - Bleak Insight (1993)

Despite being released on the Noise label in 1993, not many of you would have heard of doom mongers Sevenchurch who hailed from the UK - the home of doom. Sadly, the band only lasted for this gloomy outing but if you can track a copy down I suggest you close the curtains, paint the walls grey and set yourself up for a trip through rainy weather. A year or so previous the guys sent me a wicked package of newsletters and their fantastic 'Nefarious' demo, and so I just had to buy the debut album in support. Now, as we know, doom metal exists the world over, and there appears to be three types - there's the Black Sabbath imitation doom, which the likes of Count Raven have taken on board (which over time can grate),  then there's the psych doom which bands such as Cathedral have succeeded in constructing, and finally, there's the slo-mo dying doom, i.e. Winter, Burning Witch, Warhorse. All of these bands are cool at what they do but it's infrequently when bands come along within the genre and attempt to weave their own path. Witchfinder General did it many years ago, even Pentagram to some extent, and I believe Sevenchurch also did it. Just like Sabbath, and the bands already mentioned, Sevenchurch didn't try to be something they weren't, instead, they created an atmosphere that was from the heart and soul. Of the six monolithic tracks on offer only one runs at under ten minutes, and that's only by a shade - but don't let that put you off, instead step into the labyrinth of what became known as 'magnificent morose malevolence'.

'Bleak Insight' is not set out to grind your bones to dust, because it doesn't have to, because despite its morose glare it offers so much like a vast forest of differing shades and ivy-strewn pathways. Spears vocals are clear, almost casual in their almost reluctance to exist, the tones of a man submitting himself to the cold, vast dungeon like some sinful monk cast out by his brotherhood into a dank dwelling. In fact, the sound of Sevenchurch would be best suited to a ruinous abbey or wasted coastline where grey waves foam on jagged rocks. Am I rambling ? Of course, but that's the beauty and dark poetry of Sevenchurch. 'Bleak Insight' is exactly that, mournful, terrifying but not alienating like so many doom records which only exist to punish. 'Bleak Insight' can be relived, like a traditional ghost story it enables the listener/reader to embark on its journey never knowing what horror is to come and yet at the same time creating some time of cosy dwelling before the rain batters down from the pallid sky. Sombre is what it is, whether in the icy form of the gargantuan 'Perceptions', the concrete 'Low' or sighing 'Crawl Line'. The album fuels the imagination, and never once becomes a burden to the turntable, and when it has gasped its last funereal breath, you'll happily (well, not quite) sift through it again, finding extra layers of grey, and further chilled passageways into some esoteric gloom. Like Trouble, Sevenchurch have found their own relaxed style of hazy sadness without ever depressing the listener to the point of no return.

Sadly, the band would disintegrate after this debut record, and in some ways it's quite fitting they did, and as grunge laughably stained the airwaves of Britain, some of us ran back under our stones and gave bands of this ilk another listen, safe in the know that this type of metal is real - it follows no fad or trend, and it always exists because it comes from the soul, even if at times that place can be a little glum.


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