I remember the first time I heard “Bleed”—one of the tracks off of Meshuggah’s “obZen” LP.
The first thing I wanted to do was take a rest, because listening to it was exhausting—I had to listen to it a couple of times to figure out how they managed to make it so complex and yet keep it from turning into a shapeless ball of noise.
Second thing that I wanted to do was to ask, “What in the world was that? How did they came up with it?”
Bastard Sapling share little with Meshuggah either geographically or musically—they hail from Richmond, VA and play a brand of crusty black metal. Yet, the reaction that I had to the first track off of their LP Instinct is Forever was almost exactly the same as the one I had to “Bleed.” Once it was over, I wanted to take take a breath and figure out what it was that just passed by my ears.
In a matter of seven minutes, “My Spine Will Be My Noose” jumps from an ambient intro to all-out blastbeat destruction to melodic finale. To top it all off, there are also piercing screams from lead singer Mike Paparro—who’s clearly channeling his inner Thomas Lindberg. If that’s not enough to make your head spin, there are eight more tracks ahead, and only a few of them manage to keep it under the five-minute mark.
The palette of sounds gets even more diverse as the record moves along—there’s ambiance, traces of post-punk and post-rock, choirs, and clean singing to be found all over it, but what keeps it all together is melody surrounding all the dark grandeur.
You can pick up Instinct is Forever from Gilead Media.