The American South is the sludge metal epicenter of the world. The region’s highlights include Baroness, Mastodon, the mighty Inter Arma, Thou, Crowbar, and a whole lot more. There must be something about the oppressive heat and mountain ranges that makes metal heads want to loosen up their doom. It probably has more to do with the fact that all of the aforementioned bands have set out to expand sludge’s palette. It’s something that all metal and music scenes in general need to do if they want to not only thrive, but break out into the world at large. Asheville, North Carolina’s Bask get it. Like a lot of heavy Southern bands these days, Bask owe a bit to Baroness and Leviathan era Mastodon, though they aren’t restricted to those immediate influences.
There’s a whole lot of sludge in Bask, but there’s a whole lot of other things too. There 2017 sophomore record, Ramble Beyond, turned there take on Southern metal traditions into psychedelic Appalachian folk-prog. Whether or not we can apply that descriptor to anyone else is up in the air. We named Ramble Beyond one of the best metal albums of 2017 and it looks like Bask are gonna keep that trajectory up. Bask is set to release their third album, III, next week. In preparation, the band has shared “New Dominion”, “Three White Feet”, and “Rid of You”. Every Bask song is brimming with ideas and left turns and that’s especially true on this new batch. In these three songs I hear shades of Allman Brothers Band, Pallbearer, Yes, Grateful Dead, Fleet Foxes, Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden and more. Now, I don’t think Bask went into “Rid of You” thinking “Let’s make an Iron Maiden song but heavy on the psychedelics”. Nor do I think many people are going to hear Maiden. It’s more likely that Bask are just able to absorb and translate so many different styles that everyone’s gonna come out with a different reference point to latch onto. At the end of the day, Bask just sounds like Bask. Listen to “New Dominion”, “Three White Feet”, and “Rid of You” below.
III is out 11/8 on Season of Mist.