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River Bear Your Bones Frances Morgan , July 31st, 2008 19:08

Capricorns - River Bear Your Bones

It’s not often you get to describe stoner rock as “urgent”, but the new epic from UK sludge stalwarts Capricorns canters along at an enjoyably paranoid pace, one eye on the approaching cosmic storm. Compulsive, mathy guitar lines are beset with faint oscillator growls before descending into cavernous riffs, and slow, sublime vistas only remain so for moments, before dark clouds gather both on the horizon and in troubled synapses. Heavy shit indeed – but anyone who’s followed the progress of Capricorns since 2005’s Ruder Forms Survive and numerous live appearances knows they can do heavy. River now sees the band – who are currently based in a number of geographical locations – formulating a compelling vocabulary of their own out of the murk and weight of the genre, crafting brutal instrumental psychedelia that conceals a surprising formal elegance.

‘Course, it still rocks like a motherfucker, with Nathan Bennett and Kevin Williams’ guitar centre stage from the off, slicing through ‘Broken Coffin Of The Venerable King’ like a rusty razor, and with triumphant hooks on ‘November Suicides’ of the full-tilt variety favoured by The Sword. Nathan Perrier’s drums, often as cymbal-heavy and fluid as they are thundering, hint at a musical diet that takes in Krautrock, prog and the free-form jazz rock of, say, Taj Mahal Travellers. Mercurial, inventive rhythm underpinning monolithic string work is a formula that can lift avant-metal from its sometimes overthought, dirge-like mires, as admirers of Chris Hakius, Grails’ Emil Amos or Stinking Lizaveta’s Cheshire Agusta (or, indeed, Dave Lombardo’s playing in Fantomas) will attest, and closer ‘Drinking Water From The Skull Of A Hanged Man’, opens on an airborne beat that’s closer to Can than anything in the metal annals. ‘Owing To The Fogs’, meanwhile, slides from dark, string-enhanced languor, to Hawkwind-style biker motorik, to an out and out thrashy pummelling – throughout, Capricorns make these kinds of stylistic detours with an innate, edgy sense of direction, as if on the run from something nameless and very large.