Ba'al Soft eyes

Ba'al - Soft Eyes (EP)


The Sheffielders Ba’al are back four years after their triumphant Ellipsism with a bolder, more visionary musical scope taking their music further into Atmospheric Sludge Metal sonics.

They have added strings and more synths to their heavy soundscape, which makes their ever-shifting music a wider-reaching set of chords to emburse the diverse vocals. The music is layered and boundless with strong existential parts added by the yearning vocals. The three songs are long with lyrics that are often searching for meaning in existence. The poetic lines would probably fit just as well in a down-stripped version with clean vocals and an acoustic guitar with added violin for the yearning and the cello for the brooding to underline the aspect of longing, self-doubt, and the feeling of being an outsider.

”Here in the garden where the birds sing soothing songs / A tap-a-tap of rainfall drums on windows in morse code” are the opening lines of the album´s first song “Ornamental Doll”. And rightly so, the first sounds we hear are those of a chirping summer bird. Then the drums open the song with a bang and you are heaved into the guitars and grooving bass and vocals that snarl their way into the heavy blackened music. While the rhythm section pushes for a fast pace, the riffing guitars, in harmony with strings, make sure that the song has an atmosphere of elongated melodic lines. The vocals dive deeper into the growling as the music pans out with soaring strings and synths above the darkness. The music turns and fades away to give a wide open space for a strumming guitar supporting clean vocals, a spacious bass, and drumsticks hitting the edge of the snare.

Here we are at one of the elements that makes Ba’al`s music enthralling; the constant shifts in a song´s direction, layered and intricate without being the least messy. One of the leading shifts happens when the vocalist uses his whole range from snarling frustration, Screamo parts, clean vocals, and deep growling. You get all this in the first song as it turns to blackened Sludge Metal with deep growling. As the dark Sludge races on, a high-pitched guitar dives in for an engaging solo. The music tightens around the vocals which have turned into snarls. The high-pitched guitar is heard far away, driving full force ahead before it opens up with strumming guitar, wishful vocals immersed in soaring synth-scapes with strings that end in dark electronic atmospherics with static, churning sounds immersed in voltaic darkness.

”Ignite the world / Let it burn for the sake of burning / Let me lay skinless in a salt lined grave / Of my own making / Look into the night. / I can block out the light of the largest star / With just my finger”. This are the lines sung in a contrasting muted disgusted snarling voice as a counterpoint to the more silent sonics that open the song ”Yearn To Burn Bright”. The drums are soft below vast sound effects by strings as it is searching for a rhythm. Another sound effect emerges with a fully formed melodic line and a light sliding guitar picks up the theme and develops it further. The music then surges with heavy riffs, fast-paced bass together with the bass drum and a dissonant sound hovering through the soundscape. The pace picks up and the music gets even heavier with growling vocals that turn into elongated snarling embracing the rhythmic music. There is a wonderful shift in the flow of the dense music when a guitar begins to soar playing elongated chords and morphing into melodic tremolos while the growls go deep. I’m pretty sure there are strings here too. The ever-developing music becomes undulatingly melodic as it flows forward supporting the snarls that end in desperate existentialistic screams: ”I’ll learn to burn bright / Even if it’s my own cremation”.

The EP´s closing song ”Bamber Bridge” opens with shivering synths and glistening guitars before a massive low-end bass pours the groove for the music as the shifty drumming lays the foundation. Ambient, light sounds embrace the instruments as they move onwards expanding the sonics with subtle changes in the flow. Lingering musical memories are stirred in me as the glittering and glistening sounds recall the ambiance of ”Crystal Lake” by the late Klaus Schulze. The music in this song is as wonderfully eclectic as the previous songs, and now with a massive tide of music before simmering down with guitars and the occasional hit on the drums. This is a beautiful piece of contemplative music. It flows into a stream of synths and strings before it sweeps up to an immense Post-Metal soundscape with snarling vocals impressive drumming and rumbling bass, the riffs on its heaviest spewing out melodic themes with arpeggios and some tremolos and high-pitched solo. Towards the end, another high-pitched guitar elevates everything, in harmony with a violin following the snarling vocals as the six-string shifts between tremolo and soloing. Then everything merges in a dense, distorted soundscape led by the screaming, growling, desperate vocals, drums, and bass before it loosens up to a glistening, glimmering end after the last words are sung, ”May we embrace our brothers and sisters before the fall / As the flames of hatred spit lost into the night / If this bridge falls, the fall will kill us all”.