Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Cancervo - I (2021)

Country: Italy
Style: Psychedelic Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 26 Feb 2021
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | Metal Archives

I have a couple of submissions from Italy to review this week and here's the first. Cancervo hail from a small town called San Giovanni Bianco in northern Italy and the calm patience of rural living pervades this debut album utterly. They're only seventy miles outside of Milan but they named their band after the mountain just north of them, Monte Cancervo, and the inspirations for these pieces were sourced from local tradition and legend. I don't think they'd be the same band if they lived in Bergamo half an hour south, let alone the big city of Milano.

They play heavy psychedelic rock with a side of doom metal and more than a little stoner rock too. It's simple but so effective that it's almost hypnotic. I don't think anyone in this band does anything flash at any point on this album, but I felt like I just had to close my eyes and let it transport me into a place of tranquillity in the Italian mountains to seek peace and contemplation. It's odd for music that really does need to be played very loud indeed to be tranquil, and there's certainly a darkness inside it, but it's an honest darkness, stripped down to its essence, and that makes it immersive.

Sadly, I have no idea who's in the band, but I do know that they're a power trio, so I'm guessing at just bass, guitar and drums. There's certainly no vocalist but I'm not hearing anything else here. It's very seventies in its simplicity and sixties in its psychedelia, so the obvious influence is Cream, even though their cover of SWLABR is unrecognisable in how much slower and heavier it is (and how instrumental). It feels much more like a Black Sabbath song than anything that originally had Eric Clapton playing on it and it's the heaviest piece of music here.

For a while, I wondered if they'd invented a new genre here, of funeral psych, because the opener, also named Cancervo, has that feel. It kicks off like a tugboat siren trying opera, but it never seems like the band is trying to be as slow and heavy as possible. It simply is what it is, without apologies, and it doesn't always stay that leisurely or that epochal. I'd argue that the tone is far more important than how low and slow it goes. That tone is gorgeous, especially at the beginning of Aralalta, which is resonant and haunting. This one's about mystic mountains but I felt like I was floating through a swamp, safe but surrounded by danger.

Aralalta is my favourite piece here, but 1987 isn't far behind. It's another piece where I felt like I was floating through a landscape, but it's more appropriate this time given that this one's about a rushing river. I could feel danger all around here too, but from the river itself rather than what might be lurking in or around it. It has the fastest pace of any of these half dozen pieces of music, though it's never fast. It's definitely holding back because there are rapids up ahead and we wonder if we'll still be afloat when we get there. As it turns out, we aren't, because the album ends first.

I like this a lot and I'm having to force myself to move on without replaying it yet again because I have other albums to review. Thanks, Zoheb, for sending this one over, because it's the sort of album that's easily missed in and amongst all the other stoner rock instrumental albums that get released. It has a slightly different take on the genre, a simpler and older take that works for me, though I have to add that Darco runs very long at almost eight minutes. Will this be too slow for you? There's only one way to find out and they're on Bandcamp.

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