I watched this English duo at the Incubate festival in Tilburg, in a venue which I like to call 'the discovery cellar'. Over the years, I've been in that cellar many times, adding band after band to my favorites list. Bismuth immediately ended on top of that list at that year's edition. I 'liked' them on facebook, the most common form of fandom these days, and started following them. You can also find an interview with Tanya on this website. (read)
'Unavailing' seems to be the logical next step to that awesome gig. With this album, they seem to have perfected their sound. Opener 'Tethys' rolls on like a thick slab of mechanized tar, while Tanya growls and screams her heart out. This song is incredibly heavy and smashes pretty much all the competition, instantly. Even when the intensity goes down a bit, and when vocals turn clean and somewhat sweet, this thing keeps stomping on your eardrums.
Then, and that is pretty unexpected, 'Of The Weak Willed' starts in a different fashion. There is almost nothing left of the monolithic heaviness of the previous track. The riffs are more gentle, the drums are modest and the vocals are angelic and dreamy. Has Bismuth suddenly turned into a shoegaze act? Not really, but I can definitely hear some Bohren Und The Club Of Gore influences here. For the record: this song is brilliant, a nice surprise but still quite typical Bismuth.
'The Holecene Extinction' seem to continue that milder approach but suddenly turns back into the massive gnawing and scratching beast that we know Bismuth for. More thick riffing, more distortion, more fuzz, more screams. Here another band comes to mind, namely Winter, which is obviously another great compliment for this duo. The album closes with the equally destructive 'Solitude And Emptiness', perhaps my favorite track here.
So yes, Bismuth certainly managed to come up with one of the most varied albums in today's slow metal scene, and perhaps also one of the heaviest ones. This stuff certainly comes highly recommended. If you are into immersive drones and stomach turning madness, this definitely is something you need in your collection. Now let's hope this album is followed by a tour. I want to see this live again...