It's that time again. Revelations of Doom, Grim Kim's ongoing homage to the raw, the mean, and the devilishly dirty corners of the extreme metal underground, is back to drop some grim-ass knowledge on you fools. This edition sees us delving deep into the heart of winter. No, this ain’t no Immortal cover band: this is Bastard Sapling, Richmond, VA’s deadliest export.
Bastard Sapling was created by ex-Cannabis Corpse guitarist Drew, and was borne of the pathos and frustration that comes from quitting a band and living in squalor. Though they only formed in early 2007, the band quickly took shape, as founder Drew enlisted scene veteran Elway on drums and Mike (Inter Arma) on vocals, with Pete (Battlemaster) holding down the low end, and Shredder Steve (also of Inter Arma) on…well, guess. The band recorded a 'raw rehearsal demo' that was released in limited copies during the Heart Of Winter Festival '08 in Richmond, VA, a copy of which found its way into my greedy little paws when these guys played alongside my boys in Black Anvil, Tombs, and Woe at ABC No Rio last year. Their live performance blew me away – Bastard Sapling are, in all seriousness, one of the best black metal bands I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen far more than my fair share of those. Once I got home and had a chance to pop their charmingly crude CD-R demo on, my long-suffering laptop speakers were powerless to contain the absolute suffocating blackness these five scruffy dudes have managed to conjure up. Reminiscent of Immortal at their best, Destroyer 666 at their most biting, and Ulver at their blackest, those four demo tracks are nothing short of epic, and are also startlingly melodic. Subtle influences ranging from Drudkh to Darkthrone slyly make their presence known beneath a flurry of blastbeats and Mike’s bloodcurdling rasps, leaving an indelible impression of cold, feral misanthropy stamped all over your sorry soul.
In true black metal form (and rather unsurprisingly, given their moniker) Bastard Sapling’s roots are decidedly organic, and their respect for the natural world runs deep. Drew explains the band’s nonpolitical, decidedly unpretentious stance as, "I look at it more like escapism – as something real for us to come together on. The music speaks for itself; bands can form any kind of aesthetic they want people to believe. There is not a lot left for humans to experience – primitive emotion or a sense of origin, you are bastardized to the planet. As I'm writing this on a computer, it's all electricity shooting through some cables and shit, powered by huge turbines somewhere that require coal and fucking misery. The ideology of the band is influenced heavily from real life and the crippled environment, but also the power that the earth has to wipe us out.”
Impeccable songwriting, unfuckwithable chops, and a surprisingly clear production carried that release far beyond the boundaries of a mere demo, and whetted my appetite something fierce. Luckily, Bastard Sapling are currently plotting a split release with Philly black/thrash punks and brothers-in-arms Infernal Stronghold, and are due to begin writing material for their debut full-length within the next few months; both releases will be available from Forcefield Records (who have also put out tons of records from other sick bands like Inter Arma, City of Ships, Tournament, Triac, Battlemaster, Cannabis Corpse, and Lord by Fire).