On a surface level when we look at the doom genre our thoughts immediately turn to brooding sounds designed to encapsulate the end of the world, surrounded by a dark aesthetic to match. But this view can be limiting for a genre which can showcase so much more, and even create wonderfully uplifting sounds and bring about massive soundscapes that transport the listener to a completely different world.
Australian outfit Turtle Skull certainly fall into the latter camp, and their latest album Monoliths is evidence of this. Drawing influences from Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the quintet pull in psychedelic sounds and blend them together with fuzzy drawn-out riffs muffled under layers of distortion to create a crushing yet light and almost spiritual sound.
The band themselves have dubbed their music “flower doom” and it is hard to find a better way to describe what Monoliths produces. This is reflected right from album opener ‘Leaves’, which builds up slowly and gradually begins to wash over the listener, offering a soothing aura rather than a sense of impending ruin like more typical doom bands. The band’s stall is set out early – the first real thing we hear are harmonised vocals, before the buzzing of the guitars and bass kick in.
This style of chant-like vocals adds to the vibe the five-piece are creating. There isn’t a single voice that stands out, instead it is a collective consciousness which is reflected in the delivery, and this is where a sense of spirituality comes from.
Despite all the floweriness, the band do stick to one doom stereotype of stretching out their songs – the shortest being four-and-a-half minutes – but none of the tracks outstay their welcome, even the epic nearly 12 minute closer ‘The Clock Strikes Forever’, and this is testament to the band’s creativity that there isn’t a moment where it feels like things are getting stale, instead you just enjoy the groove and let the music take you where it wants.
Monoliths is out 28th August on Art As Catharsis. Order here.
Words: Tim Birkbeck