Describing BLOOD OF THE BLACK OWL's self-titled debut as "blackened doom" is not inaccurate but does not tell the whole story. With plenty of the suffocating heaviness of funeral doom, yet not reaching the muddy bottom of an act like CATABOMBS, and mining some of the same accents and majestic slivers of ASUNDER, this one-man project from Chet W. Scott holds its own in a surprisingly expanding doom genre. Mr. Scott does more than lay down bass, drum, and guitar tracks, he also brings to the table instruments such as "thunder gong," tubular bells, organ, and a host of other unique instruments, not to mention what he terms "environmental recordings." Of course, few outside of diehard circles will fully comprehend (and may downright hate) this 70-minute journey into the abyss, but even a handful outside of the circle (given a chance to absorb it) should be able to at least appreciate the album's transcendental and mystical qualities.
Once the listener adjusts to the steam rolling pace and unholy howls (including the baying of wolves and falling rain), sinister leads, and droning agony of "Kills in Timber" and "The Thunderous Hooves of Two Goats in the Sky", the disc's holism begins to seep through the pores. It may be a lightly plucked string that chillingly rings out, deep, monkish chants, the clang of a bell, or one man's purging howl that takes hold. But what seemingly begins as a series of parts soon turns into a sometimes frightful, even unnerving, and often trance-inducing whole that separates the soul from the mortal body. Much like the impressive effort that is ASUNDER's "Works will come Undone", it is some of those same accents and the little things in general that bring to life the behemoth crawls and bottom-feeding blackness of the arrangements. Subtle, yet gripping, the bits and pieces of percussion — whether a basic tribal beat or the nuance of a bell struck in ritualistic fashion — that are not always immediately grasped the first time take on a life of their own with repeat listens. It is this kind of doom-based minimalism that is far more cerebral in feel than what may be caught by the casual listener.
BLOOD OF THE BLACK OWL is both otherworldly and grounded in man's conception of nature and the earth. It is the balance struck that helps to separate the album from the herd. Maybe not a doom masterpiece (ASUNDER's latest is a bit better), but an accomplished album that is easily recommended for the discerning doom fan.