Thursday, April 12, 2012

Occultation: Three & Seven (2012)

The Ghost’s Negative Blood Plane

"Occult" hard rock is a small but steadily-growing trend. Thus far, it has been almost entirely an exercise in nostalgia, its practitioners content to copy Blue Öyster Cult and Coven. Bands like Ghost and The Devil’s Blood have done a fantastic job of it, but they haven’t brought anything new to the table. New York’s Occultation is going to change that.

Like other bands in the movement, it might be a stretch to call what Occultation does metal. If it is, it’s avant-garde doom. If you took Ghost, replaced the vocalist with a woman, and traded the guitarist for the guy from Negative Plane, you would be well on your way to replicating this sound.

Bass is the central instrument, its riffs driving the songs forward and holding things together, while the drums do little more than keep time. Ghost-like vocal melodies provide the hooks, and echo-laden dissonant guitar riffs provide the weirdness. The vocals and guitar make it sound occult, getting extra help in that department from organ and bells.

I’m tempted to say that this is what The Devil’s Blood is trying to be. As far as sounding occult, it’s more convincing. But The Devil’s Blood have their business figured out, and they do what they do perfectly. Occultation is treading new ground. It’s a little rocky in places, but in others it’s revelatory.

[I can't for the life of me find an embeddable sample of their new album, so here's a demo version.]

The Verdict: Three & Seven is a fantastically interesting record, but it has a lot of room to grow. It’s their next one that will really prove what this band can do. If you have any interest in this style, you owe it to yourself to check this out. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Buy Three & Seven

By the way, don't you hate it when you come up with what you think is a clever observation, but it turns out that it's not? Like, for example, noticing the guitar in this sounds like Negative Plane, and then finding out it IS the guy from Negative Plane?


  1. I'll have to keep my ears open for this one. Sounds very interesting. I dug Ghost for a few listens but it turned out to be a pretty vapid record. I like the concept Ghost had going for it, so it's nice to hear that someone with some cred is taking a stab at this.

    By the way, at the risk of stroking your ego, I've gotta say it's impressive that you fingered the guitarist as the one from Negative Plane. Good work!

  2. Just downloaded it from Amazon and am listening to it now. More EPIC than Negative Plane...softer and very, very cool. (Not complaining about Negative Plane, who remain one of my favorite black metal bands). I love the drumming as well here.

    I am a BIG fan of that kind of sick, wheedle-wheedle guitar tone used by Negative Plane, so this is right up my alley! (a dark and dank and very dangerous alley)

  3. Yep. pretty epic stuff! Awesome discovery.

  4. Occultation's style is basically Negative Plane if they had Siouxsie Sioux on vocals with lots of reverb. Also, Negative Plane's sound is pretty distinct because their riffing is an odd mix of early Bathory and Dick Dale with lots of reverb and delay.

    I would have to say The Devil's Blood have more in common with Roky Erikson and Heart as far as the dynamics and boogie goes. Comparing Occultation with The Devil's Blood is simply doing the apples/oranges quandary.

  5. You can sure bet The Devil's Blood are doing a parfect work: they ARE the definition of 'perfect'. And I don't really think they're trying to be anything at all, let alone something like Occultation (which i love, btw), coming as they are from a hard rock forma mentis. The similarities end, if they ever start, on a thematic level. And that's stretching it a lot.