Doom-metal: a genre that strikes more fear into the hearts of the general music audience (i.e., anyone with ears), and despite adoration from scenesters and petulant indie critics alike remains one clogged with more rehashed ideas and half-arsed attempts than most others. Scraping the depths of the (thinly painted) barrel come Asva.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no blanket hater of 'the doom'. I'm not gonna deny the mercurial brilliance of early Anathema, or the cloistering, unrelenting dominance of Boris' more glacial output. But the futility of What You Don't Know Is Frontier is almost immeasurable. What the Long Beach, California septet have created over four tracks spanning nearly 70 minutes reads like a collection of Sunn O))) riffs structured in reverse.
But whilst the doom overlords utilise a slow-slow build to conjure an unsettling atmosphere, Asva merely fade into nothing, losing any ambience with each rotation. 'A Game In Hell, Hard Work In Heaven, the penultimate track, marries the band’s eternal dirge to wailed eastern-flavoured vocals, a prospect more interesting than the rest of the full-length’s static landscape, but an idea realised much more coherently by Holy Roar's Bloody Panda. In the end any slight left turn leads further along the straight-road of mediocrity.
Imagine a masterpiece by the godfathers of the riff, retraced every day since its creation around 30 years, or two eras, ago, losing depth and visibility, and stretching further in time, with each copy. Imagine it; this vision is more than enough. An exercise of creative procrastination masquerading unsuccessfully as majestic restraint.
4Jordan Dowling's Score