Review by Darlene McGarrity, images provided by Aboleth
Benthos is the debut album from Aboleth and is a dynamite ten tracks of heart grabbing, sludgy dominance. Aboleths are evil eel-like monsters in the Dungeons and Dragons mythos. This Aboleth, however, hails from Los Angeles and is bursting with such a stripped down talent it’s easy to assume listeners will hear more from this blues metal band in coming years.
Blues metal is a fickle thing. It’s been called stoner metal, sludge metal, about ten other things and has been done well by bands like Orange Goblin, Electric Wizard, and Black Sabbath, the band that arguably founded the genre. And while they all have a lot in common as far as chunky bass lines and down tuned grooves, they lack one component that makes Aboleth reign high on the blues metal list: a female front.
There are only three people in the band: Brigitte Roka on vocals, Boll3t on Drums, and finally Collyn McCoy on Baguitar. Listening to this album gives such a sense of awe in instruments and talent that it’s surprising to learn there are only three members. Roka (who also is the cover artist) and her whiskey-soaked vocals are reminiscent of Janis Joplin. The ping-ponging from high and sultry to scratchy and guttural to howling in the space of a note is impressive at the very least.
These are good, solid songs that have potential for being timeless. “Fork in the Road” oozes that side-of-the-dirt-road charm with a slow tempo to start and then bursting into a double tempo all the while holding tight to that liquid grit. “Black Box” has a sort of Danzig-esque vibe to it at first with Roka’s voice in a low croon complimented by that tangy Baguitar. And finally, “Wytches” is anthemic for the first ninety seconds with mostly drums and chanting the chorus which just keeps amping up. It’s definitely a smart choice for ending an album. Kind of like a “Whoa, it’s over?” This of course leaves no choice but to hit that play button again and give it another listen.
There are a few debut albums out there that could sit comfortable in a Top Twenty and Benthos should be on one somewhere. It would be no surprise to start seeing their name pop up as openers for bands like Orange Goblin, Electric Wizard, and Mastodon; maybe even the famed Corrosion of Conformity or Clutch.