Keeper and Sea Bastard are two sludge/doom metal bands from California and the United Kingdom, respectively. The 777 / Astral Rebirth split release is offered for free either band and for sale through various labels such as Dry Cough Records in Manchester and Medusa Crush Recordings in Toronto.1 As with Thou’s debut Tyrant,2 neither Keeper nor Sea Bastard utilize the rhythmic, rolling styles of southern sludge practiced by Crowbar, Kylesa, or Baroness; 777 / Astral Rebirth are two tracks of plodding, low-tempo sludge/doom that emphasize aggression and sonic force instead of atmosphere and jump-along.
Keeper’s demonic, shrieking delivery is familiar to those fans of Indian: a colossal, noisy approach that seeks to inundate the listener through harnessing the sheer power of maleficence. It’s a disgusting example of Californian doom metal: descriptive lyrics on the subjects of corruption, abusive sexualities, and pain; plus the tortured screams of Jacob Lee and Penny Keats. “777” leans close to Keeper’s doom metal roots.
On the other hand, Sea Bastard’s track is comparatively sludgier, with quite a bit of stoner influence, especially in the opening down-tuned guitar slugs. “Astral Rebirth” showcases a dry, guttural vocal delivery on behalf of lead vocalist Monty; previous Sea Bastard releases were notable in Monty’s screech that sounded quite a bit like the Keeper’s delivery. Unfortunately, its length is its pitfall: “Astral Rebirth” is too repetitive, which is compounded by the lack of clear lyrical enunciation. At the eleven-minute mark, Sea Bastard go groove metal. It works surprising well – not the least in part to a visit by Monty’s punky scream – and even has couple of uniquely warbling solos. The final three minutes are a feedback-drenched outro. Were the entire track written in the manner of those two sections – or otherwise considerably shortened – then “Astral Rebirth” would eclipse “777” in quality.3
1. 777 [Keeper] – (13:55) – ★★★★☆
2. Astral Rebirth [Sea Bastard] – (20:48) – ★★★☆☆
[UPDATE 15 March 2016: Changed the overall rating from three-and-a-half stars to three stars.]
[UPDATE 26 April 2016: Changed the overall rating from three stars to two-and-a-half stars.]
1The latter label sells the digital copy for $1,000 Canadian. I admire their spunk.
2Mentioned in the review prior to this one.
3Like sing-along, but for jumping at shows!