Ottone Pesante are a truly enticing prospect for both metalheads and brass enthusiasts, being composed of just a trumpeter (Paolo Raineri), trombonist (Francesco Bucci, also the main composer) and drummer (Beppe Mondini). Please don’t fret (or leave comments telling me how bad that joke was – I know). DoomooD is their third full-length in four years, and certainly their heaviest in terms of density – compared to 2018’s Apocalips, which was all flurries, runs and disjuncture, this record finds these Italians taking a slower, more brooding approach as befitting the album title. While the core of their sound remains a reinterpretation of blackened death sans guitars, DoomooD explores more ponderous textures, muddier chords, and for the first time, vocalists – Sara Bianchin from Messa and Silvio Sassi from Abaton lend their crooning and bellowing respectively, both styles excellently complimenting their accompaniments. Sara’s contribution to ‘Tentacles’ is, as we’ve come to expect, by turns haunting and restrained, weaving through the murk of horns with grace and precision.
If you’re a fan of Sear Bliss, tracks such as ‘Grave’ will be a welcome listen – a sonorous dirge of trombone that builds, swelling with noise samples until we reach a turn, a zenith; from there it’s all frenetic activity, brass against brass against drum. The mix is of course spectacular, allowing room for every instrument and losing neither momentum nor potential for punishment. Given how exposed each player is compared to the comforting self-obscurity that distorted guitars provide, the technical accomplishment of each is all the more astounding. ‘Strombacea’ follows, featuring Sassi’s scorching screams over a pounding trombone-led riff – caveman riffs with Renaissance textures. This becomes especially apparent on ‘Endless Spiral Helix’, with its flugelhorn-led opening melody strongly reminiscent of Coil’s ‘The First Five Minutes After Death’, itself an attempted return to classicism.
However, I fail to see Ottone Pesante as nostalgia-merchants, reselling us the same story with new performers. Over the past five years, their sound has evolved, blossomed even, and on DoomooD they’ve pushed the envelope once again. They’re a natural fit for the contemporary metal scene in many ways – technically astonishing, utterly sincere and uncompromising, and heavy as fuck. Also, brass is metal, so there can’t be any arguments there. Now stop reading this – you all have homework this week, and it involves this band’s back catalogue.
DoomooD is out now via Aural Music and can be purchased here.
Words: David Burke