After my initial encounter with stoner/doom metal bands such as Electric Wizard, I’ve been seeking out similar bands that manage to write music that can be so heavy, yet still be so groovy at the same time. It didn’t take long before my encounter with Italy’s Caronte, with their debut full length album Ascension, which was honestly quite a pleasant surprise.
The heaviness of Caronte‘s music is pretty obvious right from the start of the album with the first riffs of Leviathan, hitting the listener so hard with the crushing intensity that it shakes leaves one shaking from the impact of the music. The heavily downtuned guitars, and the high presence of the bass instantly brings fans of stoner/doom metal to familiar ground, and especially with Dorian’s vocals, one is easily reminded of works by bands such as Electric Wizard, bearing quite a resemblance to Jus Osborn. Furthermore, the psychedelic and somewhat bluesy lead guitars of Tony Bones help to make the experience of listening to Ascension all the more trippy, with the generous usage and play of effects such as the wah-pedal.
Yet while the music here can be crushing as fuck, it isn’t as difficult to get into as Electric Wizard and their extremely dark atmosphere, with things here being somewhat groovier. Faster (mid-paced, more like) songs like Ode to Lucifer, with the strong groove tendencies would certainly please fans of bands such as Church of Misery as well. With bands like these, the old school doom metal influences are also highly present in the music, and there are moments during the album where the band easily slips into a Black Sabbath or Saint Vitus segment, though with much more groove in the music.
The production quality here is also low-fi and raw as fuck, and extremely bass heavy with the bass guitar being put extremely high in the mix, causing the music to leave a deeper impact, and making Ascension as heavy a record as possible. Often the bass of Henry are also handled like another lead instrument. Add to that the themes of occultism and Satanism to tie the various elements of Ascension together, what better backdrop to conduct one’s rites under?
Caronte‘s Ascension is a captivating journey from the start to the end, and through their music and the influences that have been infused, the band easily shows the world that the old school is not only not dead, but rather very much alive and thriving.