There must be something in the water in Belgium, as it seems to be an absolute goldmine for creative metal bands, and one that seemingly never runs dry. It’s fair to say the doom genre is often somewhat crowded and suffers at times from Sturgeon’s law, but just a few minutes listening to Pothamus will erase any doubts that the band are trudging along paths already well beaten down into a muddy mush of monotony. Instead, they’re lacing up their hiking boots and heading off the beaten path, up into alluring post-rock heights and down into sludgy valleys.
Debut album Raya is a mesmeric affair, always lurching steadily forward thanks to subtly inventive drum patterns and ritualistic oscillations. Ruminative chanted vocals fade in and out of obscurity, elegantly guiding the music onwards towards the next inevitable bout of thunderous gut-busting riffs. Despite moments that rival some of the genre’s big-hitters in terms of sheer magnitude and heaviness, the band create a unique sense of eeriness by bathing everything in a soft incandescence, like the sun shining through thick fog on a frosty winter morning.
It’s more than enough to give the band their own unique sound and identity, ensuring that Pothamus follow the lead of fellow Belgians Amenra in spirit more so than in sound.
Raya is out now on Consouling Agency. Order here.
Words: George Parr