So we heard you like bands such as Mastodon, Baroness and Orange Goblin?
So do Bedowyn.
I find the topic of derivation and influence in art to be quite interesting. Having spent a lot of time considering its importance I can see both the positive and negative effects the concept can have on the listener. Whether or not it is something you think is beneficial to artistic discussion is almost irrelevant because no matter what you believe, it remains a fundamental method of conveying personal perceptions of art to one another. As we’ve already had a great discussion on the topic, I won’t go into great detail but the issue will certainly play a central role in my analysis of this album.
First thing’s first. Bedowyn are a 4-piece band from Raleigh, North Carolina. With Blood of the Fall the band presents their second release and debut full-length (their prior release was the 2013 EP Wolves & Trees). The band play a hard rocking form of stoner metal that is deeply entrenched in the niche carved by genre mammoths Mastodon. “Great!” you say, “From where does this ship leave? What time is departure? And most importantly, will there be snacks?” Well, before you pack your bags with multiple pairs of clean underpants to facilitate the excrement of excitement, I’ve got some bad news. This rocket’s engines have been filled with vanilla essence instead of volatile hydrocarbons. Bummer, man.
Opening track “The Horde” has you strapping yourself in and looking skyward with anticipation. A nice build-up intro that wastes no time in transitioning into “Rite to Kill.” The countdown clock ticks away. The promise of lift-off is further emphasised by the thumping toms and the ascending power chord riff. Your grip on the arm-rest is further intensified by the mid-2000’s Hinds/Kelliher-style lick. A knowing smile forms. You close your eyes and await the rumble that portends the oncoming atmospheric turbulence of breaking Earth’s gravitational confines.
Then title track “Blood of the Fall” starts. You open your eyes. You’re… still on ground level. Is this normal? Your intuition says no, but your hopes remain high. 5 minutes pass. And another 5. You glance at the clock. As track 5 “Leave the Living for Dead” begins, your mind starts making excuses for the reason you’re still sitting on terra firma. One of the engines must have stalled. With such large components this must happen more often than you originally thought. Although, this sort of thing has been done before. Surely they’ve worked out the formula and ironed out the kinks. “For a Fleeting Moment” you wonder if it just wasn’t destined to be. Outside you see rain begin to fall. The droplets steadily gather and eventually trickle down the double-walled glass porthole-esque windows. Time passes slowly. The mind wanders.
Over 25 minutes into the journey and your vessel hasn’t left the ground. Sure, it was exciting to clamber aboard the ship and look around, but you didn’t pack your camera to take shots of the launch-pad. Another whole 25 minutes passes by. The doors open. You step out into the pattering of drizzle, and as you make your way home you take one last look back at the ship and contemplate what could have been. Throughout Blood of the Fall, Bedowyn show that they clearly have the potential to create a great album. The professional production and the overt song-crafting skills alone show a band who definitely know what they’re doing. There are a few memorable chorus hooks that would no doubt be solid hits, if only they had the accompanying riffs to really hammer them home. The clean-guitars are excellent, as are the lead guitar tones. The problem lies in the substance.
For every interesting part, there are several minutes of fairly bland music that just feels all too generic and struggles to lift each respective song from the pack. Bedowyn have the Mastodon formulae written in the notebook, and they nail the overall sound almost perfectly. There are moments on this album that could easily slot in on the classic Blood Mountain or the mesmerising Crack The Skye albums. However, they lack the corresponding aggression of the former, and the psychedelic-laced intrigue of the latter. Without the presence of these elements, the result is greatly diminished. The Orange Goblin comparison is also apt. The hoarser vocal sections and some of the hard-driving riffage recall the sound of the last few albums from the UK group. Except where Orange Goblin swagger with their half-cut confidence, Bedowyn meander with subtle melody rather than malice.
Yes, I’m being quite critical here as there are a lot of things Bedowyn do perfectly well, but with such obvious influence from such well-known bands, it would certainly have paid to have encapsulated the parts of those artists that render them remarkable in the first place. This is especially important when the bands in question are still extant. Fans of the style haven’t had the time to develop a longing for more of the same. Unless you can hit those spots harder, and ultimately, do things better, the attention usually ends up falling back on how great the progenitors are. Unfortunately for me, that’s exactly what happened here. Did I try several times to get into the spirit of this album? Yes. Were my expectations too high? Maybe. Did I find myself wanting to hear more after each play-through? No. One thing I do know for sure is that due to their obvious potential, I will definitely be giving their next effort a fighting chance, but sadly, Blood of the Fall will be a distant memory by then.
1.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell