I’ve always thought it was pretty neat whenever a demo from years ago gets brought back into the studio and re-released on a full-length type format. Recently, Shadow Kingdom Records brought us something from a doom metal band called Asylum, titled 3-3-88. It gives us a nice mixed bag of old-school sounds shuffled together, all packaged into a neat collection that’s a little more listener friendly regarding the production.
Something that jumped out at me immediately and was quite surprising was the evident punk influence on some of the riffs and tones. “Mystified” is a great example of this, as there’s a fast and fuzzy level of angst to the writing. The guitar tones also sound like they’re right out of a Black Flag album. This isn’t the basis for every track, because diving a little deeper in you’ll find more mellow tracks such as “Forgotten Image,” which resemble calmer Sabbath tunes like “Hand Of Doom.” And there is a lot of funky fun as well, especially with the large string of instrumental tracks that are piled up near the end.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of inconsistency with 3-3-88, which wasn’t really hard to predict, seeing what it’s made up of. I don’t find this to be a flaw bad enough to drag it under, but it’s certainly noticeable. Some tracks were better produced than others, and the large amount of different musical influences aren’t weaved together that well. Getting past this though, it’s loaded with some great riffs, and the vocals are pretty charming in the coldest of ways.
At the end of the day, I still recommend this album for those seeking something different, especially if the idea of “doom punk” seems appealing to you. If you’re looking for a solid front to back release, this isn’t where you’re going to find it. If you’re looking for some fun blends of old-school influences slapped together and called an album, this is just the ticket. Asylum would eventually go through a couple name changes, but since this incarnation of the band never made it past the demo stage, this is the closest to a full length you’ll get.