I don’t deny that I dig Rwake’s later stuff—pretty sure Rest cracked my year-end Top 10 in 2011—but I must admit I’d never heard their ’98 debut before… which was, after all, an extremely limited, independent EP. They raised a few red flags in the liner notes when, by their own admission, they mention “This album is viewed by us as more of a historical document than a recording we are truly happy with.” Non-completists take note.
It’s evident at this early stage that the band had yet to reach the epic lengths of their later work, as only two tracks exceed the seven-minute mark. Mind you, that includes the 45-minute monstrosity “Calibos/So Fucking Tired” they tacked onto the end, so put that in your pipe and smoke it!
After a three-minute intro, the album gets properly underway with “Stairwell,” a slowly-climbing, bass-heavy number with plenty of screeching guitar effects. The decidedly low-fi recording, combined with CT’s harsh screams, give off a bit of a black-metal vibe, though there’s no overlooking its sludgy underbelly. Of course, it wouldn’t be a sludge album without some found-recording, spoken-word interludes, like the one that begins “Or Die.” The second-longest song on here honours Sabbath with church bells and some devastatingly doomy downstrokes, though this one actually has a bit more of a death-doom feel, somewhat akin to Winter or Coffins, with some creepy carnival vocals thrown in at the end for good measure.
As for that 45-minute monster, well, this song’s got everything: spoken word, squealing feedback, Goblin-style synths, proto-drone pummeling, symphonic black-metal beats, harsh electronic noises, odes to Satan and vocals that sound like a constipated Porky Pig. I guess these guys musta gone through an Emperor phase, or something?