"IIIrd Gatekeeper"

(Crucial Blast 2007)Skullflower - IIIrd Gatekeeper

Okay, so here's what you need to know about Skullflower's "IIIrd Gatekeeper:" it was originally released in 1992 on HeadDirt, the label run by none other than Justin Broadrick. That, and it contains some fantastically sludgy drone metal. With a sound so tarry it practically drips out of the speakers, "IIIrd Gatekeeper" is an oozing dirge-fest that could practically give you a contact high just from listening to it.

Each song is basically one riff played over and over again. While that may sound boring in theory, the execution certainly isn't. Dense, brain-thumping bass provides the backbone, drilling the riffs right into the listener's brain. The drums combine a thunderous heft with a sticky hypnotism; they're both metal and industrial, with a hint of tribalism. Drenching everything is the torrent of guitar craziness. The screaming, warbling, feedback-thick veil of noise walks a fine line between calculated psychosis and pointless guitar yammering.

For songs that may seem simplistic on the surface, they are actually cleverly written; for the most part, each song manages to end just before it starts to get intolerable. Sure, "Godzilla" overstays its welcome, but that shows the restraint in the other songs because they could have ended up lasting for days, if not longer. Drone music can have the snooze effect for a lot of people, but "IIIrd Gatekeeper" is active enough to keep listeners from falling asleep. Although it's fifteen years old, the intervening years haven't diminished the trance-inducing power of this murky metal gem.


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