Have you been looking for heavy? And when I say heavy I say like, crushing, slow, dense heavy. If so, allow me to talk to you for a bit about Tar Pond‘s Petrol, a beyond solid doom/sludge album which makes a lasting impression in just 5 songs and is a treat to listen to.
Hailing from Switzerland, Tar Pond’s particular brand of doom is heavily infused with sludge and is permeated by a huge old school vibe as well. The band was born as a project featuring Coroner‘s Marky Edelmann, visual artist Thomas Ott helming the vocals, and the late Martin Ain of Celtic Frost. Following his death, their debut was put on hold for a while and finally released in 2020. Petrol sees them not only continuing this project, but also breathing new life into it.
I was a total stranger to the band until I saw them at this year’s Prophecy Fest. As part of the label that runs the festival, they were there promoting Petrol just a week before its release, and from the very first notes of “Bomb”, I knew I was in for something neat. It was my favorite discovery at the festival and a fantastic show, and I’m happy to report that the album sounds just as good.
Hearing “Bomb” for the first time made me feel how I think that people felt when Black Sabbath‘s self titled dropped. That slow, evil riff is something to behold and every note is truly heavy and hits you like a punch. Despite being a 10 minute song structured mainly around a single riff, its atmosphere and intensity won’t leave you bored at all, trust me: it keeps building and building and leads to a very strong catharsis. “Blind” shakes things up by having a faster pace, but without dropping the heaviness. It evokes flashes of classic bands like Candlemass, and somehow sounds like a very sludgy Alice In Chains song at the same time, showcasing a little more to their sound than you’d originally expect.
The second single “Slave” is another slow, deep song that treads along classic doom and creates a haunting atmosphere. Thomas Ott’s vocals are a true standout on the album, giving the songs the gravitas they need in order for them to hit as hard as they do. “Something” is another one that sounds like sludgy grunge, which could be just the best subgenre ever if more people pick it up. The added ‘echo effect’ to the vocals are a nice layer to make it more interesting and unique, and the somber, calmer moments make the darker ones shine further. The album’s capper, “Dirt”, makes it even harder not to make an Alice In Chains reference, but with many layers of evil added to it. Other than a dreamy intro that could fit in a post rock album, it doesn’t really offer much more than what you heard previously on the album, but it still manages to end it on a high note.
Petrol is an astounding album. While it is simple and direct on what it offers, its unique and powerful atmosphere is broad enough to satisfy old school doom metalheads, grunge fans and even post metal enthusiasts. Truly going above and beyond your average supergroup, Tar Pond carries a strong identity and is performed with the utmost care. Give it a listen, and do yourself a favor and try to catch their live show if they play near your city. It rules.