Eremit (Hermit in the band's native German) are a "monolithic sludge/doom" band, and 'Carrier of Weight' is their debut album. I'm unsure what the title alludes to - I don't have a lyric sheet, and the press release is a little vague - but I gather from reading interviews that this is the first in a series of concept albums, focussing on the Eremit as he sails a seemingly vast and endless ocean. This fantasy-based story seems to be reflected in both the album artwork (by the super-talented Mariusz Lewandowski) and the band's logo, which if I hadn't already heard the music would make me believe Eremit are a power metal band.
First off, looking at the track list (3 songs) and the run-time (just shy of 70 minutes) gave me shivers. I'm a sucker for prog-based music, but even I start to mentally wander after the 10-minute mark. Astonishingly, I was focussed from the off with this album. Such is the sheer heaviness, atmosphere, and general bad-assery of the music. My experience with the sludge genre is sadly limited - mainstream acts like Crowbar, effectively - and so I'm stepping into this review largely unprepared. Opener 'Dry Land' is a hypnotic exercise in heaviness. Honestly, "monolithic" is not hyperbole, this stuff is immense. The pace is sedate, and by the time the end is in sight, has crawled to an agonising tempo; like walking chest-high through custard. 'Froth is Beckoning', track 2, is distinctly quicker-paced, following a distinctly Eyehategod-like riff. Final track 'Cocoon of Soul', at 33 minutes, begins with a beautiful ambient guitar piece, swells of distorted guitar threatening to explode in the background, before settling into a very chilled bluesy groove. It's a full seven minutes before the floodgates open and the abrasive doom shines forth. There is a danger of such long songs outstaying their welcome, or just being exercises in excess; even a stitching of non-related pieces for the sake of it (Green Carnation's 'Light of Day, Day of Darkness' being an example I just cannot get into). 'Cocoon of Soul' suffers none of these issues, and happily progresses, naturally, to its fiery chaotic conclusion - where the pace accelerates considerably - before fading into a hum.
Production-wise, things are bordering on clipping when the band is all-in, but it's all kept in check (listening on headphones proved to be perfectly fine). The drums, having a great swing, also pound with weight and purpose. The bass sits in its own little pocket, backing the guitars, while exploring in the quieter sections. While the guitars are incredibly rich and granular in their distortion; effects are used sparingly. It's a beautiful noise indeed. One thing that's evident with Eremit, is they write a colossal riff, and don't veer too far from it for some time. Breaks do appear, usually to change the mood, but there's a definite element of Drone about this album, even though it grooves much more than Sunn O))). This is music to put you in a trance, albeit it a ferocious one, and it's very effective in doing so.
Underground music can be amazing (I like to focus my reviews on bands that are lesser known), but I find I invariably move on to the next review and forget much of what I've heard. That's not to say that I don't stand by the scores I award, more that there's such a wealth of great music out there that it takes something truly extraordinary to keep my attention. So, just to cement how impressed I am with Eremit's debut, I have ordered a CD copy of it from their Bandcamp page. That's how good this is.
CARRIER OF WEIGHT
Review by Steve Cowan
25th February 2019
1) Dry Land
2) Froth if Beckoning
3) Cocoon of Soul
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"This is music to put you in a trance, albeit it a ferocious one, and it's very effective in doing so."