Primal Sphere – Robedoor

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When Britt Brown and Alex Brown get together as Robedoor, it can be argued that drone elements rarely get as dense or as dark as when they're in their hands. Primal Sphere is a 40-minute secret ceremony of suffocating waves of aural energy and unintelligible incantations meant to disorient the senses, removing all immediate notions of space and time. They don't create songs in the typically musical sense; if anything, they act as beat-bludgeoned black holes, sucking the benevolence out of all things psychedelic. This particular EP could be seen as four sonic rituals, each one displaying its own disharmonious take on mysteries unknown.

“Stagnant Venom” trudges out of the gate with a deep, anchoring pulse and stoic handclaps that cut through a thick wave of heavily modulated bass keys. Upon close listen, voices can be heard rising from the discordant abyss, but what's being said is stripped of all comprehension. The selection is a door that opens to a netherworld where noise replaces melody and the element of doom is essential to Robedoor's creative process. “Blasted Orb” begins with the isolated tone of a single keystroke echoing through the ominous chord sustain that wafts underneath. Freeze-dried drum rolls collapse into nothingness, eventually committing to a tempo when one introduces itself. The lead synth screeches move like a stalker within the bushes, creeping ever closer to its prey as tolling bells and droll chants attempt to keep the savage beast at bay.

“Flannel Shroud” is perhaps the only selection that bears any semblance of a verse-chorus song structure, but that doesn't make it any less alien. The vocals are immediately pulled out to sea by an unforgiving undertow of repetitive bass thumps and static snare slaps. Keyboard solos emerge as amorphous feedback that swallows everything in its path. “Concrete Brother” leaves even less room for leeway, its creeping low-end tones and kick drum combining to form an oppressive thud. Along with heavy metal riffs and rhythmic cracks that sound like shotgun blasts, it's an exhausting conclusion to a release that feels much longer than it actually lasts.

Whatever light is at the end of the tunnel is hopelessly lost within Robedoor's musical experiments, which is exactly what makes Primal Sphere such a grueling listen. If their aim was to create an apocalyptic sound document where chaos and disorder rule and reign, then mission accomplished.