Bastard Sapling are another band from the Forcefield Records roster (and unsurprisingly are from Richmond, Virginia), yet they are nothing at all like the other two bands previously featured on Bleak Metal – Unholy Thoughts and The Catalyst. This record is actually, y’know, bleak. Sometimes I like to change things up ok. But back to the point, Bastard Sapling’s debut first appeared on cassette a couple of months ago and now Forcefield Records are preparing to release the record on vinyl, and evidently have a couple of pre-order bundles ready to be finalised. All pertinent details can be found on their website, so check that out ASAP.
1. Prophecy Born from Dismal Terrain
2. Cold Winds Howled Across the Desolation
3. The Apex of Suffering
4. Beyond the Void of Life
Bastard Sapling came into being way back in 2007 (it’s not actually that long ago, not really, but it seems like forever), and in the time since have released a demo, the EP entitled V: A Sepulcher to Swallow the Sea, and the cassette version of the album “reviewed” here. Not exactly prolific, but a little bit of mystery never hurt anyone and Bastard Sapling are enigmatic enough to hold attention even whilst being a little quiet on the releases front or only going by initials for names.
Dragged from our Restless Trance is a fairly melodic take on the black metal blueprint, the first track holding a tight groove that truly gets under the skin and the head nodding in that knowing black metal way. As we proceed to “Cold Winds Howled Across the Desolation” Bastard Sapling change tack ever so slightly by introducing a beautifully haunting undercurrent to the atmosphere. “Prophecy Born from Dismal Terrain” was a quick and intense number, and this band are able to delve into more interesting territory with a defiant command of their craft. This second piece is an extended ode to the bleak landscape of life and Bastard Sapling swirl in the maelstrom of existence with a powerful performance.
Clear drums peal across the wasteland laid by the raspy and harsh vocals of the barely named M. and Dragged from our Restless Trance takes on a gorgeously sorrowful tone by utilising a sweetly melancholic clean vocal behind the cries of despair. It’s pure emotion set to devastating structures of sound and Bastard Sapling break with a painful heaviness even whilst shouting “…you make me fucking sick.” Sometimes it just needs to be said, right?
“The Apex of Suffering” features a delightful vocal style that echoes with strength and again gives Bastard Sapling that little something extra over other bands of this ilk. There’s only so much “atmospheric USBM” you can take and this band are trying out a couple of different things with this record – luckily for them it all works. This third track is the second of two shorter (it’s eight minutes long but when you’ve got two plus twelve minute pieces, it counts as short) songs on the record, but that does nothing to lessen it’s aural assault and the guitars here stand out by throwing out one of the catchiest riffs these ears have had the pleasure to experience this year.
Slowing things down quite considerably on the introduction to “Beyond the Void of Life,” Bastard Sapling infuse the final offering with a slightly doom-esque undertone before bursting through the walls of noise to consume with vengeance. This quintet are certainly one to watch, and the reissue of this full length on vinyl should do much to bring them new audiences.