Aseethe have been around for nearly a decade now, but there’s been surprisingly little to show for the band’s existence so far. Their only full length offering came in the shape of Reverent Burden, a two track album released back in 2011.
Other than that it’s been an occasional split EP and an intriguing foray into cover version territory when they took on Black Sabbath’s Rat Salad, changing it into a 14-minute behemoth, presumably because Black Sabbath isn’t heavy enough. The result was akin to seeing a rat flattened by a steamroller, stretched out beyond all recognition and garnished with hunks of dead grass. It was horrific, but oddly fascinating.
Perhaps their take on Rat Salad pointed to a new direction for the band because Hopes Of Failure finds them moving away from the droning, almost ambient soundscapes that defined their earlier work, and towards crushingly ferocious guitar tones and pulverising drums. Hopes Of Failure could easily be described as a doom album; it moves slowly like a Sarsen stone dragged from quarry to sacred site. Brian Barr’s low growl and guitar tone fit the bill perfectly, sounding monolithic and primal.
The opening track is entitled Sever The Head, so clearly the band aren’t operating with a spirit of hi-jinx. Repetition is the key, and they open with a riff that possesses a sense of punching downwards as Barr gurgles filth over its rumbling frequencies. Without the smart drumming of Eric Diercks, Aseethe could easily fall into the trap of sounding like a generic doom band, but his inventiveness prevents them from repeating themselves into a corner. In addition, Sever The Head is written in three movements, and at the five-minute mark, the song drifts into an area of post-rock refuge as clean guitars and delicate atmospherics take over. Naturally, the third and final movement returns to pounding guitars and drums, crashing down like an executioner’s axe; it’s brutal but effective songwriting.
Towers Of Dust initially returns the band to the atmospheric ambient noise terrain they once occupied, but within seconds those pulverising guitar tones take over and carve out huge blackened ruts. When Aseethe picks up the pace it’s with a strangely catchy and almost jaunty riff that carries all the threat of a peg-legged clown wading through a lake of treacle. It reappears after a brief but thunderous slow-paced mid-section and seems even jauntier. Same clown, same lake of treacle, only this time, he’s got a gaily coloured hat on. Of course, it’s all relative, and this particular riff would sound like slow painful death anywhere else, but here it gives a glimpse into a world where Aseethe love Sabbath riffs at the right speed and don’t harbour a desire to mangle them beneath road work machinery.
Barren Soil kicks off with a bass tone that is so low, that when it was played it was probably possible to count the oscillations of the strings without the need for slow motion video. Slow and low is pretty much how the whole thing plays out, with impassioned growling layered up over relentlessly bleak, trudging riffs. There’s no denying that it’s a very claustrophobic and oppressive sound, but if it all gets too much, just imagine Monty Don having a rage in his greenhouse over some low quality compost, bellowing about barren soil and attacking his flower pots with a dibber and suddenly everything snaps back into focus.
They close with Into The Sun, the most straight up Doom offering here. At times they almost morph into My Dying Bride, particularly around the mid-point where Barr switches to a clean vocal and starts to recite angry poety in what sounds like a cave full of rumbling amplifiers. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it sees the Aseethe playing with a straight bat when a little bit of their perverse chaotic noise might have been preferable. This slight nitpicking aside, Hopes Of Failure is yet another fine addition to Thrill Jockey’s rapidly increasing niche metal catalogue.