Conclave – Breaking Ground (Self-Released)

Thursday, 30th July 2015
Rating: 8.5/10

During our formative years when taste-making takes place through radio or raiding family/friends record collections, we don’t start out exposed to the most extreme forms of any style. Especially in metal you rarely find that people in their pre-teen or adolescence listening to copious amounts of Behemoth or Deicide albums (unless their parents subject them to it while still in the womb). Gateways tend to be familiar variations of the American/British variety: Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden or offshoots from those main influences.

So when two members of the extreme death metal band Desolate get together – with ties to the stoner/doom act Warhorse factoring into the mix, should it really be surprising that the quartet known as Conclave have their sights set on a sludge/stoner metal mix through their debut EP Breaking Ground? Decades of musical seasoning makes it an easier sell, bassist/vocalist Jerry Orne and guitarist Jeremy Kibort slugging it out in bands since the late 80’s/ early 90’s, while guitarist Terry Savastano may be best known for his work in Grief beyond the Warhorse connections.

Three tracks may seem like a small sample size, but at 21:36 this is a thorough look into their heavy, take no prisoners bludgeoning the band unfurl on record. Elements of Black Sabbath, The Obsessed, and even 90’s era Corrosion of Conformity seep into “Lifetime”, while “Footprints in Blood” levels you through the Kibort riff choices and the equally swinging rhythm section jam aspects from Orne and drummer Dan Blomquist, which get very circular and hypnotic towards the concluding third of the six minute arrangement.

Guest lead breaks from Terry and Matt Gemini throw down a little more NWOBHM texture to the proceedings, but overall Conclave are out for doom/sludge credibility, and they certainly deliver on all fronts. Jerry’s evil vocal delivery has that edge of despair amidst the pain, some would compare to possibly occult/ death rock but it’s not growly – saving his best effort on the 9:13 epic closer “Walk the Earth (No Longer)”. The 8 track analog production from Matt Gemini at Opal Sound Studios keeps the material warm and inviting, another plus for their style.

Breaking Ground gives Conclave ample opportunity to make their mark beyond the New England scene and into the hearts of sludge/doom metal fans worldwide.

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