South Africa has, for all intents and purposes, never had a bona fide stoner doom band. Sure, some acts have dabbled with the detuned, heavy riffs and Sabbath-finery, but generally we’ve seen mostly faster, more groove action. Mad God decided in 2014 that what the world needs is a straight-up, balls to the wall, bone-crushing doom band with all the proverbial bells and whistles. And boy, do they deliver hard.
Hailing from Johannesburg, Mad God are clearly big fans of Electric Wizard and have all the prerequisite doom elements in place for this new album, Grotesque And Inexorable: gnarly band logo; gothic-font album title; dark and eerie artwork; guitars tuned down to the floor; distant Ozzy-esque vocals; occult lyric themes; etc. etc. This originally attracted me in a big way and then, after many listens, I started to feel they were maybe trying a little too hard. But this is actually what makes them so perfect for the job – they are the prime example for what could be a delicious niche sub-genre in a doom-hungry country, with all the prerequisite interesting offshoots.
The album is comprised of six tracks with nary a one under six minutes, giving each one the necessary time and build-up of atmosphere that is required for a doom banquet. Besides the Sabbathian music that is filling virtually every corner with feedback-drenched glee, the lyrics keep the darkness alive with themes of graveyards, serial killers, evil shadows, and Cthulhu levels of epic torture. The standard dialogue snippets from movies are all in play and keep the dynamics pulsing, especially in the longer songs.
Here’s the lyric video for “I Created God”, with some proper Manson madness.
The production is a little swampy, which is exactly what is needed, but the instruments (especially the bass, which is fat and toned) are firing with 100% power. Sabbath are the natural template for any doom-related sounds, so there is also a psychedelic ‘60s/‘70s sheen enveloping the sound in a warm, brown-and-green, lava lamp glow. Some doom albums tend to get a little blurry after a while, what with a similar sound and tempo, but Grotesque and Inexorable has great pacing and doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Overall, a serious effort to bring doom to S.A. shores and it certainly succeeds. With future recordings, I look forward to them pushing the boundaries and evolving into something truly unique, but for now we have something really special on our hands.
Grotesque And Inexorable Track Listing:
01. Haunting The Graves Of The Unhallowed
02. The DeZalze Horror
03. I Created God
04. The Crawling Chaos
05. No Prayers, No Fires
06. The Hunt Begins
Run Time: 47 minutes
Release Date: November 2, 2018
Record Label: Self-Released