Bismarck - Oneiromancer
Stoner Doom
5 songs (34:58)
Release year: 2020
Official Bandcamp
Reviewed by Goat
Surprise of the month

Bergen, Norway might not be the first place one thinks of when considering stoner doom, but five-piece Bismarck are here to change that. With a strain of doom heavily influenced by Sleep and esotericis themes, album intro Tahaghghogh Resalat (تحق رسال in the original Persian) opens with Eastern percussion and chanting, ominous doom droning in the background as the four-minute piece builds ominously. It explodes into blackened life in the ensuing title track, growled vocals atop a blastbeating but doomy backdrop that soon smothers any black metal elements in favour of stoner doom riffing. As the track develops it falls away into languid strums and gentle singing, practically psychedelic rock in style and a great contrast to the heavier moments. Each face of the band is equally atmospheric, particularly later in the song as the guitars turn towards ambient sludge territory and then intensify as the riffs slow even more before fading into feedback.

A terrific start to a terrific album, so immediately hypnotic that it's difficult to realise fifteen minutes has gone by! Only the more strident and aggressive grooves of The Seer kicking in jolts you out of the trance and even then you're soon back in it as the riffs grow slower and an eerie lead melody floats over the top of the sludgy morass. And the band keep things fresh with the more low-key opening to Hara, vocalist Torstein Nørstegård Tveiten's cleanly sung moans somewhere between Tom G Warrior and Neurosis' Scott Kelly as he describes arriving at a mystical mountain. The more typical snarled growls that follow as the band switch into a heavier gear are still understandable despite being drawn out at points to fit the rumbling doom riffs, and even Anders Vaage (ex-Malice in Wonderland) on bass is clearly audible under the guitars, the production (from Conan's Chris Fielding) perfect here and on the hammering drums.

This is relatively short for a doom album at just under thirty-five minutes but the band use every second well and don't drag songs out unnecessarily. Closing piece Khthon is an oddly beautiful conclusion to the album as Treiten's clean vocals turn more delicate beneath the mournful yet melodic guitars. Sure, the heavier riffs and growls soon turn up but the guitars keep that gloomy beauty throughout, shimmering in the close distance, eventually turning into ambient fuzz. None of this may really be particularly original if you've listened to a lot of doom, but Bismarck bring all the elements together so well that it's hard to resist, and the esoteric framing makes Oneiromancer as a whole feel like a particularly enjoyable trip. The screaming burning bearded skull on the cover art is just a bonus, really! Listen to (and buy) this album at the Bandcamp link above.

Killing Songs :
Oneiromancer, Hara, Khthon
Goat quoted 80 / 100
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