Another whisky, to celebrate the victory of a country I have no association with in a sport I do not give a shit about. I do give a shit about whisky though (that’s whisky as in Scotch whisky not whiskey as in Irish whiskey – a subject about which I could be tedious for about 45 minutes). Whisky mixed with finest Ayahuaska absinthe, so I am told, I’ve never had anything infused with DMT but I’m far too blitzed to make out the label or care long enough to check. Things are a haze and a blaze of colour and excitement for what seems like a long time. I feel like I’m spinning wildly constantly. Eventually I struggle to sleep, and when I final succumb I have frightening apocalyptic nightmares of great weight and import, the specifics of which are lost to me as soon as I wake. All that’s left behind is the feeling of Armageddon despair and insane Lovecraftian horrors. All of my dreams featured the new Of Spire and Throne track, towering above everything in the distance… I looked back and saw its shadow rising in the clouds over the mountains, it was then, I think, that I went mad...
It isn’t tripping. It’s very much of the here and the motherfucking now because these guys may well have summed up the damp-squib summer shithole we’ve been surfing like deranged fascists since about fuckin’ May. It’s when you come out and od crazy shit in such a remote part of the world that you realise how fucked up everything really is. I can look up at night here and see the stars, not just half a dozen but hundreds, millions, lighting up the whole sky. Back home (Edinbugger) the sky is just a sea of grey, ‘cept at night when it’s a really soul-trembling orange that I can’t look at for too long. Of Spire and Throne are the band that is resolutely of the Edinburgh moment; dropping an EP last year with cover art of the gothic Scott monument and playing almost exclusively in that bees’ hive of venues up and down the shithole Cowgate, underneath thousands of tons of gothic majesty and cranking out some of the most dirty and ruthless doom riffage coming out of the scene right now. What sets Of Spire and Throne apart was, on their first two records, the utter unrelenting trip, hammering noise like tanks rumbling overhead constantly for the whole runtime, there ain’t no let-up on these records, no pussy instrumental parts that go all acoustic, no juxtaposition to abate the assault, this is as their website promises: slow bludgeoning. With the Vagary track/disk, the band have stepped it up tenfold. Releasing a single song longer than anything they’ve dropped before and it has similar stamina. Pummelling for nigh-on twenty minutes with the most on guitar tone yet, a trip in which drums are almost entirely absent; squashed right into the corner to make way for the guitar, which plays a riff a thousand decibels wide and a lifetime long that punches across the wild highland countryside like a speeding train or a B52, cracking windows and rumbling basements.
As with all Of Spire and Throne records, these guys don’t do slow as a style, or a metaphor or a message, with them it’s a creed. Slow could be the entire reason the whole enterprise exists, were it not for the vocals keeping this a relatable record it would be dropping into Sunn O))) territory for about the last five minutes of this beast, it isn’t quite down at the single-hour-long-chord stuff Earth was doing on Earth 2: Special Low Frequency Version but you can see it very clearly on the next level down in hell. Of course all this shit is just a load of journo-wank as a way of avoiding this track/record’s worse side. It is a nightmare transcribed onto guitar strings and then fed unaltered to a roomful of schizophrenics until a whole world’s worth of spirits go mad. It might look like a song but it’s a single 24 carat romper-stomper cementing Of Spire and Throne’s position as sensei in the way of the riff. I’m not being histrionic when I say it is nightmare inducing. Since hearing this record I’ve been gripped by visions of a level of darkness I’ve not previously experienced. Of Spire and Throne are carefully wielding a sword in the moonlight, a Masonic ritual the dark implications of which are too troubling to contemplate without descending permanently into a frenzy. The riffs are so heavy, the vocals so flawlessly guttural, the drumming to intrinsic and primal it almost bleeds to the background, the entire package is one of such artifice-laden doom that I struggle to put it into words for y’all. What’s most troubling is that this twenty minute colossus stomping and leaving deep footprints in my carpet and on my chest seems like just the beginning; as you sit before the speakers you’ll realise you’re witnessing not the full rampage of a monster, but the beginnings of something far more interesting, dangerous, exciting, frightening and massive. Of Spire and Throne are just getting warmed up, be sure of that.
Get Vagary from their Bandcamp.
Written under duress by Steven.