"Leichenhaus" is the debut full-length studio album by US, Los Angeles, California based doom/sludge metal act Bereft. The album was released through The End Records in April 2012. Bereft was formed in 2008 by members of Abysmal Dawn, The Faceless, Intronaut...among others.
...taking into account that all of the above mentioned acts stand for very technically focused metal, it´s interesting to note that the music on "Leichenhaus" (German for "morgue") is slow and filthy doom/sludge metal. Apparently the members of the band needed a break from their respective "main" acts and opted to play something that sounds vastly different from what they usually play. An experiment like that can either fail badly, be a somewhat standard/mediocre experience, or it can be a success that shows other sides of the musicians involved. The latter is fortunately the case here as "Leichenhaus" is a very interesting release. While there are elements from funeral doom, filthy sludge and some atmospheric post metal traits too, the music on "Leichenhaus" is at it´s core raw and bleak sounding doom/death metal. The vocals are primarily deep unintelligible growls (spiced up with the occasional shouting raw vocals).
While the basis in the music is filthy distorted (on the verge of feedback) guitar riffs and slow doomy rhythms, there are also some really nice guitar harmony work on the album that at times remind me of the guitar harmony work on the early Trouble and Cathedral albums. So while a description that says: "crushingly heavy and filthy doom/death/sludge metal" is pretty valid, you should also add that the music is cleverly composed and that those guitar harmonies bring just the right amount of bleak despair and sorrow to the music to make it a varied listening experience.
With the musicians involved it´s no wonder the musicianship are on a high level and as the organic, distorted and reverb laden sound production suits the music perfectly, there aren´t many things I would have done differently if I was part of the band. An intriguing quality release through and through and a 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.