Pombagira- Flesh Throne Press

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, May 16, 2015

Pombagira showcased a sizeable shift in sound with 2013’s Maleficia Lamiah. Previously the UK doom/sludge band had explored fairly familiar territory, writing lengthy songs that used heavy fuzzed out guitar riffs as their base. Maleficia Lamiah still had a good deal of bottom heavy groove but lightened things up quite a bit, heading into soaring psychedelic territory that was equal parts spacey and dread inducing. At forty two minutes in length (over an hour if you had the vinyl edition with bonus tracks), Pombagira was able to let their ideas expand naturally and seemed to be heading in a direction distinguishable from the norm. Two years later the band has pushed their progressive and psychedelic nuances much further with Flesh Throne Press, a sprawling hour and a half long effort that perfectly balances the fuzzed out distortion and airier melodies better than ever before. It’s a lot to take in all at once and admittedly there are moments that blur together, but this album still has plenty to offer those willing to take the journey.

One of the biggest differences between Flesh Throne Press and Pombagira’s previous discography is that their overall sound is much more stripped down this time around. The instrumentation has a very natural, organic sound that I imagine sounds very close to what you would hear if the band was performing this material right in front of you. This production style suits their current direction perfectly, as while there are still some genuinely heavy riffs present they don’t get quite as much focus this time around. Instead, the guitar leads are focused on stretching out sparser, lighter melodies that expand over time and create a swirling psychedelic haze that sucks the listener right in. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that Pombagira is merely throwing some progressive rock style exploration into their doom and then calling it a day. What makes this album work so well is the way that it uses the haziness and bursts of bottom heaviness to provide both a calming, meditative sound and a genuinely eerie and unsettling one. One song might send listeners off on a sprawling journey that lulls them into a sense of calm serenity with fuzzier grooves surrounding their eardrums, while another might use a similar melody to evoke a sense of unease and create tension. It helps to give the material a unique feel within both the psychedelic rock and doom spectrums, and this duo has further diverged onto their own path with this release. Admittedly it is a lot to take in all at once though and the sheer amount of content does lead to some similar sounding riffs and a bit of repetition, but it wasn’t a big enough deal where I felt the need to skip over any particular track during my time with the album.

Peter Giles once again goes for a softer, melancholic vocal delivery, though this time it sounds like his singing hovers over the instrumentals even more and fades in and out of the spotlight over the course of each song. With the amount of space that is present on this recording, as the guitar riffs expand outward and build up layers the singing fills up the spaces which often makes it sound like they’re lost in Pombagira’s haziness. It’s an approach that works well, as even when the band reaches their heaviest points on this record the vocals still have an airier, haunting sound to them. As the music has continued to move towards sprawling melodies and a more personal, introspective feel it makes sense that Giles’ singing has followed suit and keeping them slightly towards the background adds to the hazy, mysterious atmosphere the album is able to create.

There are a few songs where it sounds as though Pombagira is in danger of retreading previously explored ground on this lengthy effort, but it’s not enough of an issue to prevent Flesh Throne Press from engaging those who choose to spend an extended period of time with it. It feels like the group has taken the psychedelic haze and increased emphasis on melody from Maleficia Lamiah and taken every element to the next level, creating a listening experience that’s warm and inviting one moment and surprisingly tense only a song later. Doom and psychedelic rock are both very crowded spaces at this point, but Pombagira has continued to find a unique space within the two to occupy and I expect they’ll keep pushing the boundaries in the coming years.


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