A couple years back, bay area doom trio Brume caught some ears with their fantastic debut LP, Rooster. The Billy Anderson-produced effort put them on doomsters’ radars with an enjoyably dark, psychedelia-tinged brand of slow and low. Since then, few records have seemed to zero in on the unique concoction that Brume had basically mastered on their first full-length. Whether it’s the collective tastes trending toward doom of blackened or traditional-leaning varieties, Brume’s latest release Rabbits kind of feels like an outlier. The three-piece is simply too contemporary and evolved to go the bluesy doom route, their aesthetic and temper have far more in common with the post-metal stylings of Amenra than a more bread-and-butter Iommian disposition.
From the get-go, “Despondence” achieves that oh-so-sought after balance of melody, space, and weight; but Brume execute it with the effortlessness of a brushstroke, encapsulating a vast range of beauty, fluidity, and boldness. From the ghostly serene opening moments (which call to mind Angelo Badalamenti’s work on Twin Peaks or even a bit of that creepy twang from that latest Orville Peck record) to delicate flow and build to the initial plateau to the twist at about the closing minute, “Despondence” sets the bar for Rabbits’ profound depth, one that approaches YOB-like levels of attention to detail, where glints of light become perceivable through the impossible depths of murky doom. Vocalist/bassist Susie McMullan’s voice lends a dreamy varnish to the album, where she weaves in and out with unthinkably soft croons as skillfully as she delivers with full-bellied power. She even takes on hints of Chrissie Hynde on “Autocrat’s Fool,” offering a well-appreciated note of attitude. When paired with guitarist/vocalist Jamie McCathie (as in “Scurry”), they conjure some captivating (and moving) interplay with voices that blend superbly.
Rabbits certainly has a West Coast doom flavor. Brume frequent psyched-out and hazy headspaces, and they couple it with a crafty post-metal vision for navigating to and through them. The atmospheric dimension of their sound is as crucial as the physicality of their voluminous, riff-centric moments, hanging a substantial gloom on the back of every bludgeoning passage. With Rabbits, Brume manage to counter every bit of soul-compacting heft with just enough heady introspection that elements like the adventurous “Blue Jay” can feel like a reasonable pivot from the record’s most conventional track, “Scurry.” The latter is a track that descends down a more familiar occult doom path ala a Holy Grove, Witch Mountain, or Windhand, but the former is a decidedly non-standard offering where prominent piano and cello features displace gigantic roars of distortion. “Blue Jay” feels like the most complete blend of dramatic post-doom this side of Giant Squid, and it’s a worthy centerpiece to the record.
“Lament” keeps Rabbits’ post-y momentum rolling as Brume unfurl it with white-gloved care, each musical idea is given proper attention and delivery, undercutting its 11-minute runtime. Drummer Jordan Perkins-Lewis’ style elevates this feeling with playing that’s often reserved, but with astute ability to complement dynamics and pick points for rhythms beyond an archetypal crawl. There’s ample room for McMullan’s vocals to sprawl and vine through each song. Similarly, McCathie’s playing takes advantage of Brume’s roominess with leads that swirl and glimmer in tune with their careful atmospherics.
Brume pick up right where they left off on Rooster and have stepped their game up to new, awe-inspiring levels. Rarely does doom come together so beautifully without sacrificing heft or getting caught up in the riff. Late-in-the-year albums like Rabbits are what make so many folks champing at the bit to get their best-of lists out look downright foolish. Consider this an essential listen before you close the books on your 2019 doom faves, friends.
Rabbits is available via Magnetic Eye Records wherever you can get your filthy paws on it.