When Black Sabbath formed in Birmingham in 1968, few would have expected that their heady take on blues-rock would go on to inspire something new. Sabbath will forever be looked back on as the pioneers of heavy metal – a genus which today is both incredibly diverse and seemingly standalone. Their presence is perhaps felt most in the doom metal sub-genre, where their first records are revered canon and the stylistic reference point for those set on laying down heavy sludge.
Doom is thriving. Bands such as Sleep and Electric Wizard broke through and achieved more ‘aboveground’ success, helping bring doom to a broader audience. The swathe of new releases is growing and the ardent doom fan is spoiled for choice. This presents both a blessing and a curse; every now and again something new and exciting can be found in the pile of similar-sounding brutal and sluggish riffs – one just has to dig for it.
Of late, connoisseurs of doom have been beside themselves with joy at even the mention of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. Blood Lust has already been labelled as one of metal’s best releases of the year, its limited runs on both compact disc and vinyl have sold out and are drawing lofty prices, and most importantly, it is obscenely enjoyable to listen to.
What distinguishes Blood Lust is the line it walks between reverence and originality – this is not high school plagiarism of Iommi et al. or Master of Reality Redux. The band take their evident doom influences and run with them in a different direction. The album has a clear psychedelic tinge, mixing stoic cuts with the more upbeat. Opener “I’ll Cut You Down” chugs at a breakneck pace, dragged along by fittingly maligned vocals. Maligned is perhaps the best descriptor of the album; “Death’s Door” and “I’m Here To Kill You” exhibit some of the thickest and most unnerving guitar sounds around.
Operating within the confines of a well-worn aesthetic can be a safe move for bands, but often leads to a derivative ‘tag.’ With Blood Lust, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats have taken the building blocks of their hallowed genre and assembled them in a unique way. The doom is still there, but it is shaded in with subtleties that make the record accessible to both the hardened genre man and doom-naïve. One walks away slightly unsettled from Blood Lust, promptly hitting play to experience it all again.