Since releasing ‘Temples of Doom’ in 2013, Beneath the Storm has maintained a frantic pace and put out an album every single year. The solo work of Slovenian musician/vocalist Shimon, Beneath the Storm’s previous three albums have skirted the line between traditional doom, funeral doom, and sludge, with tense bottom heavy riffing and harsh lower pitched screams supplemented by horror movie sound clips. Each one has taken a slightly different approach while keeping these core elements, which is why ‘Lucid Nightmare’ might take anyone who has heard his previous material by surprise. Due out on July 4th in Italy and August 1st worldwide on Argonauta Records, there are still plenty of abrasive, sludgy riffs to be found on the album but the vocals represent a significant departure from Shimon’s prior work. Gone are the distorted screams and growls, with gruff clean singing that has a distinctive grunge influence.
Today we’re excited to have the opportunity to present you with a full stream of the new album. I think it’s important to talk about the vocals on ‘Lucid Nightmare’ first, because even if you haven’t spent time with any of Beneath the Storm’s previous releases the word grunge has a tendency to scare away people. As someone that’s always appreciated a lot of what the early grunge scene had to offer before it became watered down, the performance on this release is what drew me in right from the start. Perhaps it’s because of the abundance of stoner doom and sludge bands using harsh pitches that this caught my attention, as Shimon’s move over to a much cleaner range gives ‘Lucid Nightmare’ a distinguishing characteristic. It’s a strong performance too, as his pitch remains at a consistently gruff and gravel-laden range that suits the bottom heavy grooves and distorted riffs. You can tell that he was confident in his ability to pull off this switch-over too, as the vocals are more prevalent in the mix than on any previous Beneath the Storm album.
Of course, just switching your vocal style to something completely different wouldn’t make much of an impact if the instrumental work didn’t stand out. But this is where Shimon has once again showcased his ability to craft engaging doom/sludge that has that ominous, unsettling horror movie vibe alongside some catchy grooves. Over each of the ten songs there’s a nice balance between fuzzed out grooves that have a bit of an Electric Wizard vibe and slower numbers that up the atmosphere and head into ominous territory. One of my favorite songs on ‘Lucid Nightmare’ is Down which comes towards the end. Starting off with a mellow acoustic guitar lead that ups the grunge/rock feel of the track significantly before bringing in lumbering, heavy riffs to supplement it, this piece has a perfect blend of haunting, eerie melodies and skull crushing doom. The rest of the material is no slouch though, and that balance between Earth shatteringly heavy and somber mellowness plays a bit role in keeping Beneath the Storm’s latest album engaging from beginning to end.
Compared to most bands in the doom/sludge spectrum, I think that Beneath the Storm’s push into cleaner grunge style vocals could give the project a crossover appeal with the rock audience that isn’t always common for this genre. I hope that Shimon hasn’t completely abandoned the style though, as I’d like to see the harsh screams and singing merged together further down the line, but the decision to make such a radical change has paid off and pushed the songwriting forward despite how frequently he keeps cranking material out. Spend some time with this one and I think you’ll dig the horror movie vibes and crunchier grooves.