It’s been a particularly strong year for music from the Italian province of Ravenna. Nero di Marte’s Immoto, was released in January this year. The following month saw the release of Postvorta’s Porrima. The month after, Void of Sleep’s Metaphora. The following month should have seen a release from Ottone Pesante, but a certain novel coronavirus sweeping across the world put paid to that. Ottone Pesante’s DoomooD finally sees the light of day half a year later, and it’s been well worth the wait.
I’ll admit it, I’d never heard of Ottone Pesante before this year, but the guest appearances from Francesco Bucci and Paolo Raineri on the aforementioned Void of Sleep and Postvorta albums definitely drew my interest. (And the pair appeared again on the second Postvorta album Siderael, Pt. One), released this year.) The inclusion of brass in metal music is not novel, but the way Ottone Pesante play it certainly is. DoomooD has easily been one of the most eagerly anticipated albums for me this year. This could have easily led to disappointment. Instead, the album was even better than I expected.
The album begins in truly magnificent fashion with Intro The Chasm, a malevolent martial beat played out in brass only initially, then joined by a roll of drums, becoming a fully-fledged pounding parade of sound, before marching straight into Distress. It’s deliciously ominous and foreboding. It’s honestly one of the greatest introductory pieces I’ve heard this year, and it’s an incredible opening to an album that never really lets up on intensity.
Distress leads as naturally into first single, Tentacles, as naturally as Intro The Chasm did into Distress. The whole album is seamless in this way, and it is so well done. Tentacles is quite different for Ottone Pesante, in that it includes vocals. Tentacles is one of three tracks on DoomooD that feature vocals, this time provided by Sara Bianchin from fellow Italian band, Messa. And, oh, what a delicious pairing. Sara’s vocals are a perfect match for the music, and Tentacles is a surprising highlight from DoomooD because of this. It’s no wonder the band chose this song as their lead single. Tremendous!
Overall, this third album from Ottone Pesante is a lot less wild than its forebears, but within that restraint is actually a great deal more heaviness and power. It’s terrifically dark and doomy, full of malice and wickedness, and when the trio erupt, as they do at times, it’s extremely powerful. The payoff from the crescendos is truly climactic. Coiling of the Tubas could just as easily be ‘Coitus of the Tubas’. But there’s no relaxing afterglow, as we’re thrust straight into Serpentine Serpentone, featuring guest vocals from Silvio Sassi of Aba-ton. A frenzied start to the song leads to blast beats and the harsh vocals of Silvio. It makes for the most uncomfortable (in a good way) moment on the album. One could almost be forgiven for forgetting that the only instruments played on this album are trumpet, trombone and drums. The unconventional power trio are in full effect here.
And finally there is relief. The extremely brief Ocean on a Eco introduces Grave which provides an atmospheric (dare I say, cinematic) soundscape. As dramatic as Serpentine Serpentone before it, but the drama provided by absence of sound, rather than overload. The track builds and builds, threatening to overwhelm, before briefly fading away, only to be replaced by another high tempo march. Silvio is back on Strombacea, but this track is nothing like Serpentine Serpentone. Paradoxically, given the harsh nature of the vocals, it’s an almost gentle, and relaxing journey, which leads neatly into Endless Spiral Helix. In fact, if anything this album is more of a helix than the palindrome suggested by its name. There is a constant sense of returning to previous moods, textures or rhythms, yet never quite the same. Variation, rather than repetition, as we travel further down the spiral.
Unfortunately, the spiral is not endless, and the silence after End Will Come When Will Ring the Black Bells finally fades away (it’s a lengthy fade out) is an uncomfortable one. There’s nothing left to do, but play the whole damn thing again, I guess. And ultimately, that is the real joy of this album. It is one that can be played time and time again. Although the idea of doom metal played by brass instruments might sound like a novelty that will soon wear thin, it honestly doesn’t. When this long year finally ends, and people reflect back on the musical highlights, I will be very surprised if this album doesn’t feature on many people’s lists. It really is that good. My only complaint is there’s just not enough of it!
[You can read Nick’s interview with Ottone Pesante HERE.]
01. Intro The Chasm (2:34)
02. Distress (1:55)
03. Tentacles (4:54)
04. Coiling of the Tubas (4:47)
05. Serpentine Serpentone (2:41)
06. Ocean on a Eco (0:17)
07. Grave (5:29)
08. Strombacea (3:12)
09. Endless Spiral Helix (3:11)
10. End Will Come When Will Ring the Black Bells (5:12)
Total Time – 34:12
Francesco Bucci – Trombone
Paolo Raineri – Trumpet
Beppe Mondini – Drums
Sara Bianchin – Vocals (track 3)
Silvio Sassi – Vocals (tracks 5 & 8)
Record Label: Aural Music
Country of Origin: Italy
Date of Release: 18th September 2020