There’s a very cool and underrated niche in which the psychedelic and the fantastic meld together. Instead of the Tolkien-esque aesthetic which has come to dominate much of our fantasy (an aesthetic I am a fan of but which can also get a bit too much), this kind of fantasy pictures undulating landscapes, chrome-colored vistas, and realms where hallucinations and the real start to meld. Bands have long focused this kind of approach into their music, led by the hallmark example of Hawkwind‘s legendary work with Michael Moorcock, a pioneer of this style of fantasy. Together, the band and author created a tripped out world, fueled by fantastically furious riffs, powerful vocals, and wild, far-ranging synths which populated it with caterwauling warriors and strange creatures alike. However, in recent years, there haven’t been many bands that emphasized this kind of hallucinatory fantasy, whether in sound or in content. Even bands which are ostensibly based on Moorcock’s seminal work prefer a direct, more muscular iteration of it.
Enter Book of Wyrms. Cleaving true to their album’s name, the band pride themselves on going back to the days of proto-doom and proto-heavy metal and seeing just what the cesspool of rust, drugs, and lands far away might hold. Their upcoming release, Remythologizer, channels all of that into a heady and compelling stoner-doom album, packed with acid-dripping riffs and hoary vocals. They’re also not afraid to introduce weird effects and synths which feel like the world winding down. Even a cursory listen to the opening track, “Autumnal Snow”, will reveal screeching tones, slowly un-spooling perceptions of reality, and an overall air of fantastical imagination. These tones accompany the album throughout its run time, informing the slightly over-the-edge vibe it gives off, with track names like “Blacklight Warpriest” and “Curse of the Werecop”.
Speaking of the former, it’s a great example of another fact which is evident throughout Remythologizer s; this is not just an exercise in wild aesthetics. Instead, Remythologizer is also a well thought out musical effort, packed to the brim with convincing guitars and great vocals which carry much of the punch of the music. The bass is also worth mention, loud in the mix and not afraid to play around a bit with the structure of things. Sure, you won’t find any revelations here; the formula set forth in the days of yore by trendsetters of this style is stuck to pretty closely here but it’s executed well and with the band’s own personality emblazoned all over it.
The progression of things, the attention to tone, and the execution of it all makes this album quite effective at channeling the far-flung vibes it attempts to get across. Put simply, it’s a jaunt into a kind of adventure that’s somewhat lost favor in recent years with the stoner/doom crowd and for no good reason. It reminds us that there are other fantastical stories out there beyond “the good and mighty win the day” or “the dark and gritty are awesome”. Remythologizer, through music and through aesthetics, channels the weirder, more mind-bending, and subtle vibes of the early days of psychedelic music and manages to breathe a bit of aesthetically fresh air into the lungs of its genre.
Book of Wyrms releases on August 23rd via Twin Earth Records. You can pre-order it through the band’s Bandcamp page above.