Negative Wall is the latest project helmed by bassist/vocalist Tommy Stewart, also of Bludy Gyres and Tommy Stewart’s Dyerwulf. While these projects all fall under the doom metal umbrella, each one occupies a different point in the spectrum with enough stylistic distinctions to set itself apart. Negative Wall’s debut Gammagelu is more stoner-oriented than Stewart’s other projects, to the point of including an Electric Wizard cover at the end.
Gammagelu offers a raw presentation with its own set of tweaks on the stoner doom formula. The four songs here pride themselves on a wall of sound execution with slow tempos and extended trip-out sequences, but the mix comes off as muffled. The guitars aren’t as bottom heavy as one would expect, and the vocals have a nasally character that sits quite prominently in the mix. This setup may make the album something of an acquired taste but there’s a certain charm in the rehearsal room aesthetic.
The songs also have some good things going for them, even if it can be a mixed bag. “Imperii Exsules (Galactic Viatores)” starts the album off on a somewhat jumbled note, but “Hybrid Genus Serpentis” and “Mater Saeva Kp22” follow it up nicely. The latter track stands out for its memorable vocal lines and spooky buildup. On the flip side, I’m really not feeling the closing cover of Electric Wizard’s “Torquemada 71.” It’s not offensive by any means, but the overall delivery is rather stilted and the vocals sound out of place.
I had to dock a couple points for that cover, but Negative Wall’s debut album is a rough yet enjoyable start. The songs probably would’ve benefitted from a more polished production job and a slightly rearranged track order, but it’s a breezy listen overall with some solid quirks. It’s stronger than Tommy Stewart’s Dyerwulf but lesser than Bludy Gyres, which it makes it a neat best of both worlds in terms of both style and quality. And just like those projects, I can see this getting better with time.
“Hybrid Genus Serpentis”
“Mater Saeva Kp22”