The beaches of North Carolina might not seem like the most obvious breeding ground for doom, but with their new album Aquatic Occult Sourvein seek to change perceptions of where doom metal’s boundaries lie. These murky shores proved to be a fertile ground for poverty and alcoholism, leaving frontman T-Roy in search of an outlet to vent his pain, which he found through some pretty intense sounds. And these sounds are certainly intense: When Sourvein—which features some past members of fellow Southern sludgemongers Buzzov-en—plunges into “Avian Dawn,” they prove the value of brevity in doom without sacrificing the massive sound.
Aquatic Occult is not a torrential beating that rains down upon your ears. It has varied shades of bongwater to bathe in, ranging from the melodies submerged beneath tides of distortion on songs like “Mermaids” to the attack of “Urchins” that gnashes with the hunger of sharks chasing the scent of blood. Sourvein taps into an intensity similar to that of Electric Wizard, and there’s a comparable vocal diversity. T-Roy find the most honesty when he comes closer to singing in a raspy plea of desperation best displayed on “In the Wind.” The band, for their part, is not afraid to ebb down into a calmer flow on the briefer interludes, always returning to the higher ground of their undulating grooves.
The undertow of “High Tide” pulls you down into murkier depths with a babbling brook of bass running under the garbled vocals and wandering guitar solo to create a “Planet Caravan”-like vibe. The stormy churn of “Coral Bones” find the band sailing along Electric Wizard’s resin-swirled waves. “Oceanic Procession” finds the band sailing off into the night on a darker note. The creepy outro features a vocal performance with a barnacle-encrusted rasp reminiscent of Tom Waits as Renfield in Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula. With their first album for Metal Blade a strong showing, Sourvein takes a bold step forward by delivering one of the more ambitious doom releases this year.