By: Owen Coggins

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Released on February 15, 2016 via Independent

Deveikuth’s album 0?.??  lives up to its name, in that it’s a darkly obscure collection of symbols, some familiar and some obscure, put together in inscrutable fashion. Described in the promo as funeral drone/doom, I’d probably call this more sludge (inflation has hit the terminology of extreme slow metal and anything distorted, down-tuned and not very fast is droney or funeraly). Anyway, the first track ‘0’ has a decent lurching set of chords, scuzzy and with some good in-between-the-drops feedback squeal and a great guttural murky scrawl of a vocal to keep things moving along. The riff is repeatedly pulled limb from limb, with delightfully stretched bits of sinew in between.

Next track ‘.’ (yes, the title is a full stop), is more rhythmically led, with an interestingly distorted drum smacking away along the front of the sonic space while echoey depths are plumbed in the background by varied bass effects and shards of airy atmospherics from an unknown source. After an interval in which the rhythm is replaced by a cave-goblin growling, the great drum sound comes back in half as fast and twice as powerful to see out the piece. The final track, ‘Ø’, gets into its stride a bit more with a varied pace, relentless use of the crash cymbal beating and beating you over the head, and some interesting use of the guitar and a muffled vocal screech. We drift out of consciousness with a solo piano note seesawing, which had been there in the background for a while already but at the very edge of hearing, as if it could have been coming from somewhere else.

It’s not at all surprising to see fellow French doomsters Monarch! first among the listed bands in the promotional stuff, since there’s a similar exploration of extended riff landscapes with hoarse vocal chords. But where Monarch! masterfully keep a sense of eerie weightless tension strung out across a fifteen minute track, for Deveikuth the routine is a bit more predictable. A few minutes in to the first track, for example, the vocals expand into a chorus of demented goblin laughing. For me this is a bit overdone, sort of like a cartoon Stalaggh without the genuinely unsettling backstory. And the second track (I think—actually I suspect the promo may have mixed up the order… anyway) begins with a standard clip of footsteps echoing down the haunted-house-hallway. These cheesy effects can’t help but do the opposite of what they should, that is, it brings you out of whatever atmosphere has been created to roll your eyes at how obvious it is. A shame, because these clichés only interrupt a much more interesting evocation of sonic uneasiness that’s already happening in the heaving riff in the first track, and the odd, unidentifiable burbling noises in the second, and the relentless build of the third.

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