Of Spire and Throne - Toll of the Wound (4 stars)

Of Spire and Throne - Toll of the Wound

Expertly crafted and highly satisfying slab o’ sludge from Edinburgh doom trio

Following last year’s split release with Groningen sludgelords Ortega, Edinburgh-spawned doom trio Of Spire and Throne return with a limited edition EP on cassette, CD and black or red vinyl. With bleak cover art and a tracklist that promises three tracks in ten times as many minutes, it’s pretty obvious that a hefty amount of darkness dwells within. This thing is mastered by the hand and ear of revered US producer James Plotkin too, who knows a thing or 12 about crafting vast and brutal sonics. In fact, with his recent CV including duties capturing and enhancing the sound of freak-out psychonauts The Cosmic Dead, twin-bass noise-rock ensemble Thin Privilege and now this lot, Plotkin is becoming an increasingly ubiquitous presence in the Scottish heavy scene these days.

Pounding ten-minute opener ‘Legacy’, a shockingly visceral and single-minded bit of caustic staccato sludge abuse, is perhaps the strongest track. It starts off like the heaviest point of an Isis tune (skipping the long, tedious build-ups), but ends up somewhere much more monolithic and disturbing. It’s not so much a collection of riffs as it is an arrangement of colossal granite pillars being shoved over by burning apes. All the while, vocalist/guitarist Ali Lauder tells of unknowable and unintelligible horrors in a voice made of hot tar and bone fragments.

More subtle and atmospheric in its early stages, ‘Tower of Glass’ eventually kicks in with an agonisingly slow instrumental trudge, an experience much like being stepped on by a drunken baluchitherium on the long saunter home. The closing epic ‘Cascading Shard’ offers nigh-on 13 minutes of relentless, grinding, dead-sloth-paced misery, flowing expertly and with understated complexity from grim riff to sad riff to utterly despondent riff, any one of which could qualify as a public health hazard.

An expertly crafted, sadistically punishing and highly satisfying slab o’ sludge.