Rounding out an awesome trio of newer releases from The Church Within Records is Tekhton; a most unusual five piece from the Netherlands. Hovering loosely in a realm between ultra heavy doom and mesmerizing post-rock the band is truly peddling something different while rising triumphantly above the sake of pure novelty.
First and foremost this is heavy stuff that catches a bit of classic groove coupled with a lowdown rumble that draws from the heaviness of “Forest of Equilibrium” era Cathedral, Warhorse and Winter. Twin guitars pummel out riff after riff of quaking, stoner tinged doom metal that nary rises above a deadly mid-tempo shuffle. Molten rhythms ooze through your speakers and are akin to the movement of the tectonic plates with appropriately dense bass distortion colliding face first onto a bed of anvil heavy percussion. Everything is wrapped up with a tendency for dynamic melodic segments and an ominous haze of tense, dissonant textures that are a deviation from the general playbook of this sort of music. The vocals also have a unique quality to them, opting for a throaty, whiskey soaked growl that I can’t really liken to any particular vocalist offhand. It is kind of a sung growl if you will; if that truly makes any sense.
The tour de force opener “Oxen of the Sun” shows the psychedelic distances that Tekhton frequently travel to. Off color keyboard melodies shimmer beneath a steadfast crawl of post-doom riffs that erupt into full on doom swing later on. This song is truly strange. Everything about it is a twisted version of the two prime genres it draws from (especially in the guitar department), making for a bleak captivating listen that doesn’t offer up easy answers.
Immediately after the weirdness of the first track, “Terrors in the Whale” shows a bit more of the band’s adherence to tradition. Compositionally I wouldn’t call this traditional at all but the structure here is more tangible, relying on downtrodden riffing that nails just the right amount of classic boogie. The gripping 70’s lunge of the song’s opening riff will draw you in right off the bat, even though the remainder of the 5+ minute running time is spent drilling you into the ground with increasingly distressful riffs and manic, microphone torture. There’s still some insane guitar alchemy in this track where it sounds like twin axes Dirk and Ralph are finding a new way to contact alien life. Continuing the descent down the doom ladder is the aptly titled “Days of Doom” which is a mammoth of syrupy, retro grooves that eventually takes a foray into the slower, hopeless dregs of bipolar doom. Nothing too flashy on this track but superior riff mastery makes it another standout leg of our journey.
It is with the instrumental “03I05” that the band unleashes their straight-up melodic tendencies. They build atmosphere with an intro of fuzzy, smoked out riffs but instead delve into an acoustic jam that is nothing short of beautiful. It was something I wasn’t expecting from this outfit even though “Oxen of the Sun” showed that Tekhton were capable of just about anything on this full-length.
With an acoustic reprieve, the stage is set for the band to decimate you with the towering presence of “It is Death” which probably stands as my favorite track on the album. Honestly, if this song doesn’t impress you on some level there is a good chance you might be dead. Weaving together equal parts St. Vitus, Cathedral and Rosetta; this wicked composition will get stuck in your head in a big way. The verse is extremely addictive with a drugged out 70’s groove providing serious bravado that is further complimented by the most infectious vocal hooks on the album. I’ve been walking around for the last two weeks mumbling “It is death, I tell you its death” everywhere I go. The air of heaving post-rock dissonance punctuates the catchier moments of the song. These moments often have an undercurrent of bitter doom beneath ‘em to really get the blood boiling and just when you think you’ve got the song figured out they’ll throw in sweeping washes of ambience that will simultaneously dazzle, confuse and generally impress your ears.
“There be Giants” sends us further into the sonic post-rock world of Tekhton’s repertoire. This track has a few of the album’s most upbeat, indie guitar licks while still remaining mindful of the doom as a focal point. An extended intro with the bass fighting to the forefront is a welcome highlight to this track and one that carries into the like-minded intro of the devastating closure of “Apocalypse Machine” that manages to pack in a bit of all of the styles into one mutated final product. Eerie surges of distortion illustrate the lush post-rock atmosphere with style but sinister doom wafting up from diseased lands put an end to the track’s chance of sounding polished or peppy. Ripping screams make their presence known in the finale marking their only appearance on the entire disc, creating an effectively menacing overtone for the album’s end.
This record is a fantastic piece of work. Tekhton manages to straddle the fence between pulverizing doom and cosmic ambience without ever losing track of their overall goal. They also are able to utilize both styles in abundance which is not an easy path to travel. If you’re in the mood for a completely different doom trip then this is the record for you. I can’t even imagine how they’ll progress from here but they’ve made themselves a hell of a plateau to conquer with future endeavors.