Clouds Taste Satanic is an instrumental doom band with, as their name suggests in its nod to The Flaming Lips, a psychedelic bent. The Glitter of Infinite Hell, the band’s fourth release in as many years, comes out on Halloween, which is fitting considering their demonic art and musical themes. The four piece from Brooklyn, NY, which formed in 2013, has enjoyed some acclaim, but are still one of doom metal’s best kept secrets. Members Steve Scavuzzo, Sean Bay, Greg Acampora, and Brian Bauhs comprise the band. The album was recorded and mixed by Ben Rice of Degraw Sound in Brooklyn NY and mastered by Alan Douches of West West Side Music.
The Glitter of Infinite Hell gives the impression of a Lovecraftian version of Hell, with droning extraterrestrial noise layered on top of dark and foreboding themes. The album is massive in more than just sound quality; even with only four tracks, the runtime still comes in at 74 minutes. The oscillation between bellowing riffs, careening guitar solos, and eerie atmospheric sections keeps the listener engaged throughout the 12 and 18 minute compositions. The album begins very structured and deliberately, and slowly devolves into chaos, as if the laws of entropy apply to the band’s surreal version of Hell.
The songs on The Glitter of Infinite Hell have movements with three distinct styles which cycle hypnotically. The main riffs are nice and slow, trudging along in lead boots. Each time they recur, they materialize with more layering and often have a peculiar dissonance in the last rephrasing. To add texture and contrast, the compositions open up into atmospheric, openly strummed sections that leave room for the wind to whistle through the barren desert of the underworld. There is doom and gloom in the bridges, and solemn, yet vital, energy in the solo sections. The band transitions between these three concepts, sometimes seamlessly and sometimes with sudden stops or complete fadeouts; the listener is often unsure whether a track has ended or not, and this adds to the suspense of the album.
The promo track, “Greed,” runs 18:40 min, which is the typical song length for this album, and begins with deep, foreboding guitar distortion before introducing a slow, deliberate riff. The psychedelic guitar overlays may remind fans of Earth’s “The Dire and Ever Circling Wolves” from their classic album Hex; Or Printing in the Infernal Method in the way the guitar strikes accentuating notes and then lets them bend, arc, and trail off. Clouds Taste Satanic have a much heavier, wall-of-sound style than Earth, but the reference to a familiar drone/doom sound helps listeners prepare themselves for an entirely instrumental, trance-worthy album.
“Treachery” begins with a solo bass intro, as if it is still carrying some of the load covetously sequestered from the abundance of the previous track. The riff slowly descends, slides, and adds voices until all join and build up a treacherous wall of sound against your vulnerable ears. A layer of moaning incantation builds a dark mood in the atmospheric section, and the song slows to a crawl with all voices shouting together on beats one and three. The effect is dramatic and pulls the listener directly into the groove. The last solo in “Treachery” stands out from previous sounds with a more blues-influenced improvisational style.
Track three is named simply, “Violence” and does not tease or stall — it immediately begins to oscillate between the main riff, an open chord progression in this case, and a sixteenth note staccato for underneath solos and fills. The atmospheric bridges speak of experimental guitar licks, drum rolls, and an undying echo of a dark melody, like an after image. The percussion stands out in the sparse environment, utilizing a militaristic marching beat to keep the music moving forward. In the final solo section, the second guitar lifts up above the bass and intertwines it’s voice with the primary soloist, and as they finally begin to agree and sing, the song fades out. The resolution of the song somehow manages to combine all elements of the preceding sections, making it a satisfying conclusion.
In “Wrath,” the band unloads its most abstract ideas, and for those with more psychedelic leanings, it is the gem shining through the sludge of the album. A brief song in comparison to the first three at 11:46 minutes long, I appreciate how it breaks the formula that began to become evident in tracks one through three. The key of this song is brighter than the rest of the album, and while I would not dare to refer to this song as cheerful in it’s brighter tone, it is more driving. Guitar solos are sprinkled throughout, and each new solo is a little trippier, a little more confident. Experimentation with reverb and feedback sounds like an attempt to tune into alien communications. In the last section, the guitar is given room to say it’s piece. For 320 bars (I may have lost count). It remains interesting throughout, in part because the soloist leaves space for the trudging rhythm section at the end of each phrase.
The Glitter of Infinite Hell combines the psychedelic guitar sounds of The Flaming Lips, the atmospheric eeriness of Earth, and the riff-laden sludge of Sleep. To properly enjoy this album, let the fuzz take you and follow the riff as it drives you into a trance. Folding your consciousness into the music will make the fade-outs, sudden stops, and skillful transitions stand out and smack you awake in places and subtly revert you to your visceral, animal nature in others. The band is adept at introducing a melodic theme and taking derivatives on it successively, with each iteration more layered, more intricate, and more chaotic. The songs are at their most satisfying when riffs from two sections combine into one dramatic soundscape. Clouds Taste Satanic are proficient at building tension, but some opportunities for resolution were missed, maybe intentionally. While fluctuations in tempo and key changes engage the listener, experimenting with a time signature other than 4/4 could make future releases dynamic. If they are mindful to keep their songwriting from becoming formulaic and perfect when to satisfy and when to defy expectations, Clouds Taste Satanic will evolve from a solid and appreciated example of its genre to an indispensable addition to any heavy music collection.
The Glitter of Infinite Hell will be released on October 31st and is available for preorder on Bandcamp.