Ba'al - In Gallows By Mass
Depthy, immersive blackened post-metal taking the scene by storm
Words: Phil Weller
On the Saturday of Bloodstock 2017, Sheffield’s blackened post-metal monsters Ba’al packed out the New Blood stage and, through the dense smoke that coalesced and festered under the darkness of the tent, hypnotised everyone within their grasp. As you stepped beneath the cover the outside world became cut off; here was a band with its own thick, suffocating and awe-inspiring atmosphere. On In Gallows By Mass, their debut EP, they have captured and bottled the engrossing, feral yet deftly calculated magic that arrested the festival that August afternoon on a record that has been winning plaudits quicker than Kevin Spacey's career is ending.
Opener Black River marries bludgeoning rhythms akin to ISIS, Cult of Luna and a vicious, slow motion Mastodon with the icy, reverb soaked vocals of Steffan Benham. Their ambience, which at times boasts a dark and haunting celestial quality – something which second track One Under The Sun hinges upon – juxtaposes their violence with a poise that bolsters both without either ever becoming overwhelming. The dreamy aural beginnings of One Under The Sun however, which shares a little musical DNA with Deftones goes a long way in flaunting their subtly progressive side. It builds and builds, at first through a fizzing snare drum cutting through delicate, clean cut guitars then through minimal but grating overdriven riffs as they put their foot on the gas. Exploding in its final throes with a guttural twin guitar assault, lavishly peppered with methodical harmonies, Benham again tries to steal the show with some bewitched screams.
The two songs clock in at around 18 minutes, meaning that these are depthy, explorative songs in which you have to be immersed to truly appreciate. But the closing track is even more indulgent, but even more justified too. It would be counteractive to walk you through the dreary, hazy and hallowed steps the 12 minutes of Days of Yore wander down, but let us assure you that the track is nothing short of a masterstroke. Turn up, tune out, and all hail at the altar of Ba’al. You’ll be hearing a lot more from the APF Records signed act over the next few years, and for good reason too.