Throw the word ‘doom’ into any conversation of the metal sphere and chances are, you’re going to bring up imagery of bonged out dudes playing riffs from Black Sabbath’s ‘Master of Reality’. Of course, the real essence of doom is precisely as it sounds, to create an aura of hopelessness, despair and inescapability.
These concepts have been taken into account by London four-piece Wren, whose pummeling EP ‘Host’ constantly punished listeners for 22 minutes with one battering riff after the other, like having a bag put over your head and beaten with truncheons. In comparison, their full-length debut ‘Auburn Rule’ which resembles less of a beating and more of a slow smothering.
Applying a more progressive songwriting approach to their swamp-like sludge textures allows Wren to add more dexterity to their songwriting, but by no means does this make it an easier record. A song like ‘Scour the Grassland’ can transition from a siege of repetitive riffs that build upon each other like stone walls, into carefully arranged melodic patterns, showcasing shimmering guitar textures and haunting soundscapes that match the grandeur of Neurosis.
The contrast between abrasive and fragile is a welcome feature to ‘Auburn Rule’ which gives the harder moments more impact upon delivery. The intro to lead single ‘The Herd’ shows off an impressive build-up from melancholic ambience into an annihilating pounding of riffs, are made more terrifying thanks to the record’s organic production, which sounds like it was recorded in the dead of night in a misty forest.
In spite of this greater variation in songwriting, ‘Auburn Rule’ still revolves around that same despair and confinement as their EP, while introducing harsh elements of noise and post-metal to fuel the discomfort. While OHMMS and Bossk are currently tearing it up with a fuller sound, ‘Auburn Rule’ shows Wren aren’t far behind their contemporaries who are all smashing the expectations of what is is to make music about doom.
‘Auburn Rule’ by Wren is released on 14th July on Holy Roar Records.
Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)