capricorns - river bear your bonesOkay, I’m going to come right out and say this but I don’t want it to deter you from exploring what I’m about to describe; Capricorns are a band from London who invariably fall into the doom/sludge category.

Wait! Don’t run away. Seriously, you should keep reading this time and I’ll even make it brief. While they’ve been labeled as such, Capricorns are so much more than your typical Neurosis knock-off. I really think they’re the sort of act that could change your mind about this style of music. The reason? Capricorns don’t wallow in dragging time signatures and brooding, growly vocals. In fact their latest effort, River, Bear Your Bones is completely instrumental. Thematically it explores the band’s own feelings toward living in close proximity to the great Thames river and “the London Towne that spreads from its banks like a concrete cancer.” Musically it has the hardcore edge of the best Black Flag material, the crushingly melodic undertones of a band like the Melvins and the sort of complexity in arrangement that made for the most memorable and engaging moments in Black Sabbath’s mid-to-late Seventies material. They’ve become a staple on Lee Dorian’s now 20 year old Rise Above Records label and have won over the admiration of many industry giants.

With their latest release they’ve outdone themselves and the sharp, biting tones of the guitar are carried along by a solid backbone laid down by new drummer Nathan Perrier of Conflict. The feeling of doom is pervasive while augmented by elements one could only describe as “progressive” and atmospheric. There are analogue keys used for sonic enhancement of the material but you’ll barely notice them. What stands out most are the strength of the arrangements and the storytelling nature of each varied tune on this eight song opus. From the first track, “Broken Coffin Of The Venerable King,” you’ll be impressed by the way these three blokes pack compelling riffs, tempo changes and recurring themes into just under nine minutes of swirling vertigo.

The heavy stomp of “Seventh Child Of A Seventh Child” is contrasted nicely by the fiery licks of “Tempered With The Blood Of Beasts,” which weaves a labyrinthine sonic tapestry that rises and falls in an impeccably stirring manner. “A Savage Race By Shipwrecks Fed” begins as a monstrous display of raw, hardcore attitude and features aggressive, sludgy bass riffing along with malevolent axework before dissolving into a hazy, atmospheric mood piece only to rise up again like a huge, tentacled beast for an impossibly heavy last few minutes. The disc ends with a trippy eleven minute jam session that speaks volumes about how well this band works together and the way each member feeds off the others.

Capricorns aren’t just another sludge act you should ignore. They could very well provide the bridge that enables you to find appreciation for a number of other acts that may have purposely fallen off your own radar. River, Bear Your Bones makes for an agonizingly entertaining hour of your time.


(four out of five horns)

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