KETCH: “The Anthems of Dread” CD

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Having recently reconnected with the Old English fortification of doom and gloom, this beautifully presented double EP affair caught my attention. Hailing from Arvada, Colorado, it appears that the quintet has been plying their thick swampy sound for at least three years. But it’s the thirty-eight minutes of new material from last summer where the band begins to shine. With the exception of the whispering “Estranged” set against the the backdrop of haunting piano and percussion, the remaining five compositions often stretch well beyond five minutes. That broad scope is very much in keeping with their older self-titled demo yet the progression into an individual entity is now more pronounced. “Fertile Rites of Sacrifice” begins gently. A plucked guitar. Poignant. The drums enter with a rolling tap. Layer by layer, the other instruments join too, the pace quickening and the vocals bellow with all their might. This is contrasted with a delightfully measured guitar solo. It really throws open the possibilities of where they might go next. “Distant Time” ramps up the intensity. Double kick drumming, guttural vocals from the very bowels of the earth and deathly guitar ambience ooze into blackened sludge and eerie instrumental passages. Again, a well-timed and nuanced lead break brings a touch of class to the journey. That is Ketch’s strength really. Melodic dynamics that sweep through pained screams and yells. It may not be overly new. But the craftwork is commendable. Take the icy melodic tremolo bridge from “The Monsters of the World” to “Estrangement” referenced previously as further proof of that. Doom drips from “Detached and Conquered” and in little over two minutes heads will bang to that riff. Some cool bass runs before another moody twist conjures a shimmering desert plain. Bleak and ominous. No happy ending in sight. Is it not strange that the cymbals sound so processed throughout?

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