Released: Unkn, Independent
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Usually, bands can be defined using set categories based on their sound. In order to find the right descriptive for Oregon four-piece Contempt, I’ve had to make up a genre which I think encompasses them perfectly: sludge monster black metal. Now you may think that sounds ridiculous, but after a full listen of their debut album ‘Skinwalker’, it’s likely you’ll be inclined to agree.
There is no delaying the inevitable; the album begins its full-frontal assault from the second “Gallows” kicks in. Heavy, hollow sounding drums, typical to the sludge doom style are thrown into a blender with riff work that dances between black and doom and vocals that do the same. Second track “Bleak Harvest”, clocking in at 11:43, is just as formidable and certainly explains the “monster” part of my earlier specification; it is a monolithic wall of sound that crushes any mere mortals who have gripes about its length.
Third, and by far my favourite, is “Black Lungs”. Here, the black metal influence really comes into its own with double bass drumming and the tremolo picking guitar we’ve all come to know and love. This isn’t just your typical BM offering though, there are hardcore influences which give the song an extra kick, making it grip you tightly by the throat and urging you to press the repeat button.
The final two tracks are “Forking Path” and “Skinwalker”. The former is spitting with vitriol and is lyrically the strongest: "Gateway through all possible dimensions; hallway of mirrors, recursive, repulsive; spiral fracture, innumerable fragments unraveling this truth: This garden has many paths, but only one exit. I will die with your entrails between my teeth, snagging, ripping in the rapture of agony. I am the word, I am the blade. This is the end of all things. Leave you strangling, red and naked, dying in this tomb". This gives you but a taste of how Contempt seamlessly blend substance and utter hatred; definitely some of the best lyrics I've heard in a while. The title track winds the album down nicely, showcasing the band's love of doom with an incredible catchy riff that goes along at crawling pace alongside heavy drum battery. Various tempo changes occur but it always comes back to that one solid riff, until everything eventually fades out into nothingness with naught but the light pattering of cymbals to signal the descent into oblivion.
This record is anger without the angst; a stand-out offering in a time where one band blends in with the next. Hopefully Contempt bring forth another release soon, but until then, it’s almost certain that ‘Skinwalker’ will be featuring highly in my end of year list.
Review by Beth Avison