Monday, March 28, 2011

Clagg - Lord Of The Deep

Lord Of The Deep
Obsidian Records

Within the Australian doom/metal scene, Melbourne (Victoria) based outfit Clagg is certainly one of the more recognised bands doing the rounds, with the long running outfit earning their esteemed reputation through the release of four highly acclaimed studio efforts (2003’s self titled E.P., 2005’s ‘Let The Galaxy Burn’, 2007’s ‘Where Dead Gods Sleep’ and 2009’s ‘Lord Of The Deep’) and their crushing live performances.
It’s been two years since ‘Lord Of The Deep’ was first released (Through Sydney based independent label 666 Records), and with the album’s initially pressing having completely sold out, Brisbane based label Obsidian Records and Clagg have decided to join forces and give the album a second chance at greater exposure with a much needed re-release.
Over the years, Clagg (Who now comprise of vocalist Scotty, guitarists Tom and Vman, bassist/backing vocalist Sammy and drummer Tim) have evolved and shifted sound with every new release. And as you would expect, ‘Lord Of The Deep’ is no different in that respect. But while Clagg’s previous efforts have been quite strong and memorable, there’s no denying that the band’s latest effort is by far their best yet.
The opening track ‘Carrion’ is a sprawling sixteen minute behemoth of a track, and fairly typical of what we’ve all come to expect. Slow and brooding, the track isn’t big on tempo changes or speedier moments (Although there are notable changes of moods and speed in places throughout its entire duration), but does make up for some subtle contrasts in the textures the two guitars provide, its sheer heaviness when it does finally kick into gear and Scotty’s continual bruising vocal performance.
The two part title track ‘Lord Of The Deep’ is again another epic with a running time of close to sixteen minutes, and nothing short of a gamble for the band and the attention span of some listeners. But thankfully, the band provide plenty of twists and turns in both movements, with the two parts (The slow and funeral doom dirge of ‘Part I - They Dream Fire’ and the mid-paced and more instrumentally based ‘Part II - At The Rising Of The Storm’) linked by a common musical theme, but separate enough to stand out from one another.
The hypnotic old-school Black Sabbath swing within ‘Buried’ is a welcome diversion from the darker overtones of the two former tracks, with duel vocals adopted by Scotty helping give the song that extra bit of spice, while his clean vocals on the rather straight forward doom track ‘Harvest’ is something completely different and unexpected from the band, in a good way.
Bringing the original album to a close is ‘Devour The Sun’, which is by far the most intense sounding track on the album (Both in terms of Scotty’s rasping growls and the biting guitar sounds), and also another to boast a rare inclusion of a guitar solo.
As part of this re-release, Clagg have included a bonus cover of Iron Monkey’s ‘Big Loader’ (Which first appeared on their self titled debut from 1997), which the band has long cited as one of their biggest influences. As expected, the song does have a different feel from the rest of the album, but nonetheless is given justice in the band’s hands, and is a worthy addition to the album.
Some of the success of ‘Lord Of The Deep’ comes down to the band’s current line-up, some of it can be put down to song writing and the overall crushing sound they have throughout the album (Which can be credited to Blood Duster’s Jason P.C., who co-recorded, produced and mixed the album), and some comes down to plain consistency on the album from start to finish. Either way, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that ‘Lord Of The Deep’ is a huge release for Clagg, and one that fans of doom metal (Or Clagg for that matter) won’t be disappointed with one bit.

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© Justin Donnelly