December 23, 2007
It isn’t often that this happens but the press sheet for The Deep Blue is just about dead on. In fact the Crucial Blast review included may be able to put this in better perspective than I ever could. Although I’ve got a few things to say on my own part about this debut from the UK’s The Deep Blue. Even though I myself dig on Om quite a bit, I think The Deep Blue could be the answer for Sleep fans who find Haikus’ and Cisneros’ latest project just a cut below their expectations. In fact I think I dig the two songs on this record better than Om’s entire body thus far. Call it blasphemy if you want but I think The Deep Blue takes the foundation that the masters are working on and adds a couple of extra rooms to it.
What helps here (or takes away from the novelty depending on how you look at it) is the fact that The Deep Blue is a three piece with a guitar adding extra girth to the buzzing bass distortion. The monolithic drumming and chanting vocals aren’t much of a deviation from what Om has to offer but something about the songwriting here moves much more ground; especially if you finish these two tracks from front to back. Whereas Om abandons the traditional elephantine grooves of Sleep, The Deep Blue embraces them, rendering their sound with a rich bluesy rumble that has appeal right from the starting line.
The lumbering kickoff provided by “Under the Ice: The Resurrection” makes it known that this material will nod heavily to their influences but take a different path as well. It is driven by a lengthy lead-in that gives way to a slow-motion dirge that drones with a hypnotic, spiritual feel that isn’t afraid to add melodic guitar licks and twisted Sabbath riffs to the meditative state of consciousness that their sound induces. Psychedelic guitar lines even float into the kind of spacious atmospherics which cosmic dope dealers Mammatus and Dead Meadow apply to their material on a regular basis. This track is particularly defined by a droning end sequence that will be sure to leave all that hear it in a delightfully comatose state.
Best part of this disc is that “Haunted Tide: The Freezing Storm” the second epic track is even better than the first. Twice as monumental and groovy as its predecessor; this tune brings in a more upbeat swing. The Deep Blue’s special blend of 70’s tinged influence on their almighty guitar/bass grooves helps this song kick into high gear quickly. Echoing chants and whispers create an even better mood than the vocals of the three records of their closest peer band as the delivery here is slightly more gripping. After a ripping intro of dense chords and groove the guys opt for an ambient section that slowly makes it way towards a windswept sample. The sparse instrumentation of this part would make one hard pressed to believe a really formidable storm is on the horizon in the form of a heavier than thou classic groove that I dare you to try to shake from memory after one listen. Several breaks that seep into tribal drum pummel and swells of deadly amplifier emissions pave the way for a finale that gets more metallic and galloping with each repetition. The din is silenced by the calm of ambient distortion and howling winds, putting an end to this surprising piece of work.
My only complaint with this disc is that it is a bit too short. Although there is plenty to explore over the course of the two included songs the problem remains that it is only two songs. Material this good warrants a few extra tracks. Nonetheless The Deep Blue is off to a smashing start with album number one and I stand by my statement that this is more dynamic than even Om. I do enjoy Om a great deal but the guitar here fills in the gray areas that the mighty Sleep rhythm section leaves wide open in their own tunes. Then again Om has no intention of just recreating Sleep, so this band gives you a combination of both ideologies if you are dissatisfied. I highly recommend this one to the folks out there who Om doesn’t deliver the goods for. You might find yourself enjoying The Deep Blue a good deal more.