The Slow, Swirling Miasma of Brume
by Tamara Rayan
Donkey is the debut release from Brume, a new San Francisco trio. Taking predominant inspiration from the big head honchos of all that is stoner and doom, such as Acid King, Electric Wizard, and basically all that Matt Pike touches and turns to slow, the band then incorporates additional “in-vogue” genre influences that many doom bands have been touching upon lately. In this case, this includes smatterings of sludge and even a slight 70’s psychedelic feel, as in the modernized efforts of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. Overall, Brume‘s first album is the kind of album that slinks into one’s awaiting ears, resting in a placid manner, unwilling to budge its warm body from whatever burrow it’s dug there.
From its first colourful melodies, this is a welcoming album from start to finish. There is nothing inherently menacing in Brume‘s sound, especially in the use of sludge metal which stereotypically tends to lean towards the chaotic and threatening side. On the other hand, this is more hazy, more confusing, and more staggering in atmosphere. Take the second track for instance, “Win,” where the feel is less like being slowly trampled by an elephant and more like stumbling through a dense forest; eyes thick and sick with sleep. One’s head is immediately lost in immense, fuzzed out riffs and left with only those lilting vocals to lead the way like traces of light floating through foliage. In regards to those vocals, McMullan’s style is much in the psychedelic/doom vein of Jex Thoth andWindhand, but a little less sultry in timbre and a little more playfully mischievous, giving a unique flavor to the lyrical element of the band. The entirety of the album carries on much in this way, hitting strong on all fronts while ensuring a lack of monotony. An added treat is the doomed down version of Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s “Even if I Love,” which takes the original acoustic skeleton of the song and fattens it with a more calorie-dense glaze of sound.
Ultimately, Donkey can be a strange, swirling creature, one with enough charm to spare over repeated listens to the album. Brume are undoubtedly something to watch out for in their future releases and this debut is one that can ensure such confidence.