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Pelt: Heraldic Beasts

Pelt has become reknowned over the past few years for their largely acoustic, neo-Appalachian/American Primitive drone-psych sounds, and the presence of contempo Fahey-channeler Jack Rose has further endeared them to drone/folk/psych circles. Before their jump to acoustic material, though, these guys forged some seriously h e a v y glacial ragas and eternal amp-drone epics.

The massive Heraldic Beasts deluxe double album set is of particular interest to us at Crucial Blast HQ, as it compiles a series of live movements captured between the years 1998 and 2002; portions of these recordings had been previously released on limited edition cd-r via the Klang imprint, or have appeared on past compilations. This is the era of Pelt when the group erected some of the heaviest slabs of free-floating power drone this side of Skullflower, Total, Sunn O))), Earth, and other conjurers of super-heavy unanchored amplifier mantra.

The first record in the set is the heaviest, and features earlier tracks of monolithic drones and deep, subterranean gravity invoked by the band's wall of guitar, hurdy gurdy, "drone fiddle", and organ. Huge, scraping dronescapes swell like the amplified rumbling of some deep-earth orchestra tuning up in the blackness, coalescing into dark, corroded melodic figures that gradually morp into a sort of demolished, crushing Dead C/Skullflower free-drone amplifier dirge that smolders across the A-side. The flip continues with the rivers of blackened amp hum flowing forth, all heavy free-floating feedback and the scraped, scrabbling of rusted guitar strings, surging into a mighty speaker-melting buzzsaw raga that revolves in a storm of abused guitars and mangled fiddle; just as heavy and meditative as early Earth jams. Awesome.

The second record scales back a little on the amplifier roar, and showcases more recent material that was recorded in Houston, TX and Blacksburg, VA, with a lineup of esraj, tanpura, chord organ and oscillator conjuring huge swirling drones that blend together Eastern ragas, Western folk laments, and the immolating purr of unchained feedback. The last side however once again blossoms into a massive dronefield of transcendental feedback-drift erupting into harsh blasts of corroded noise and speaker grit, molten guitar noise crafted into monstrous blissed out hymns. 100% zoned-out drone heaviness.

The packaging for this 2xLP edition is absolutely stunning, as well, with the two super thick vinyl slabs housed in a heavy, sturdy full-color gatefold jacket with gorgeous artwork and absolutely zero text. Recommended.

-- Crucial Blast