BLOODY PANDA
"Pheromone"

(Level Plane)

01. Untitled
02. Coma
03. Fever
04. Ice

RATING: 7/10

Christ, the images a name like BLOODY PANDA conjures… The doom genre continues to demonstrate its ever-lengthening wingspan with albums like this New York act's "Pheromone". With a basic style firmly grounded in the rumbling dirge of funeral doom, the distorted guitars, concrete-splitting bass lines, and Neanderthal thunder drumming come with the sing-chant delivery of Japanese siren Yoshiko Ohara, not to mention some stirring organ passages. Singing lyrics in both Japanese and English, hers is the ingredient that gives this entrée its distinctive flavor.

The four lengthy tracks — "Untitled", "Coma", "Fever", and "Ice" — span a total of 39 minutes and require a mood and mindset the likes of which an out-of-body-experience produces. The haunting vocals aside, the bass, drum, and guitar playing is appealingly primal, rife with loads of crunch and fuzz that would in isolation be relatively appetizing. Not quite dissonant, yet challenging to traditional ideas of "music," once one settles in for the ride, the trip is at once cosmic and primitive. While the drone is omnipresent, it is the bleak organ sounds and the trance-inducing voice of Ohara that makes the difference on songs like "Coma" or the nine-minute ethereality and rumble of "Fever". The latter tune actually kicks into a jolting break for a mid-tempo "jam" of sorts during the last minute or so, bringing the threatening guitar tone to the fore.

As is often the case with this kind of "out there" doom concoction, you had better fancy yourself a fan of extreme music that reaches the outer limits of convention. Artistically speaking, "Pheromone" is an intriguing work, one that does not stand out like it would in a world without bands like GIANT SQUID, KAYO DOT (with which BP shares a split), or ORTHODOX, but something approaching a niche has indeed been carved by BLOODY PANDA. Maybe not required listening for the genre's heady segment of punters, but certainly an album to check out for the dedicated fan of boundary-pushing doom.

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