01. Void Angel Ritual
03. Haunted By the Living
04. Prolong the Death Watch
05. The One They Fear
06. Reaching the Threshold
[Black Market Activities]
Stomach Earth is the self-titled debut from the latest musical project by the multi-instrumentalist Mike McKenzie (aka Gunface). His main band The Red Chord hasn’t released anything since 2009’s amazing Fed Through the Teeth Machine which means that he’s had some extra time to spend on other projects. The Stomach Earth sound is a very doomy one with tempos that religiously follow the genre-mandated speed limits. Given its slow-morphing nature and downcast ambiance, this record isn’t really a fitting summer release, unless you live in the southern hemisphere and need a break from all The June Frost (oops!).
Throughout the album’s very reasonable forty-nine minute length, transitions take their sweet time to evolve and make way for each other. McKenzie’s vocals are very commanding and fit the dense riffs rather marvelously. The drums maintain a largely primitive plodding that works to accentuate the deep chugs and pulsating bass but on many occasions, the cymbals sounded too low and a bit lost amongst the fog. As far as distinction between the album’s seven tracks, there’s little evidence to allow that to happen but what is obvious though, is that, track by track, the tension keeps building up towards the monolithic and aptly titled ‘Reaching the Threshold’. This one really comes off as the most memorable and identifiable track of them all.
The single encounter on this album that presents some musical virtuosity is the guitar solo on ‘The One They Fear’ which offers a change in the proverbial pace of the album; not the literal one. Then, after more than forty minutes have gone by, the slightly stretched out ‘Claimed‘ comes in as the closing piece that just slightly over stays its welcome. It’s clear that this is a track intended to draw the conclusion of the album, but its patient build-up might have been more effective had it been about two minutes shorter.
Stomach Earth is indeed a fine debut and a well-executed foray from Mike McKenzie into the vast expanses of doom metal. Looking back on his output with The Red Chord, it’s clear that his background is of a far more technical nature so pulling off such decent doom record deserves a tip of the hat. It is so far unclear whether The Red Chord will dissolve as a band or go back to working together, which doesn’t help Stomach Earth’s status become a clear one. If this project is to grow and become a steady thing, then we could be in for some finer and more refined doom in the future from this talented musician, which sounds like a good thing indeed.
Stomach Earth – Stomach Earth gets…