Capricorns – Ruder Forms Survive
Label: Rise Above Records
This sadly now defunct quartet was made up by guitarists Nathan Bennett and Kevin Williams, drummer Chris Turner (also of stoner titans Orange Goblin) and bassist Dean Berry (of the greatly missed and legendary Iron Monkey), and it’s safe to say that any ideas that that last two members may conjure in your mind are probably right: Capricorns served a heavy riff-orientated sound; but delivered it with touches of progressive metal and post-rock influences.
“Ruder Forms Survive” was their debut album, released in 2005, compromising of only seven tracks but runs over a relatively mighty 47-minutes. It would be followed by one other album before the band decided to part ways, but to say that Capricorns hadn’t left a boastful quality of UK sludge/post-metal releases would be blasphemy. While the band has a similar sound to Pelican (especially “City Of Echoes”), Capricorns arguably pushes a more progressive and technical style.
Opener 1977: Blood For Papa begins with heavy breathing, only to explode into a full on riff charge, before settling into a Pelican-heavy guitarplay. The final third section of the track ups the ante completely with a doomy use of discordant riffs that builds up the anticipation to the returning of the guitarplay that appears earlier; sounding more monumental than the first time.
: The First Broken Promise is the only track to have vocals on the album. Provided by Eugene Robinson of noise-rock experimentalists Oxbow, he and Capricorns fit so naturally that it’s easy to think you’re listening to Oxbow at times – but soon snapped out of it when the heavier moments of the song kick in. The opening has these creeping clean guitars that work well with Robinson’s strained, schizophrenic vocals – the two reaching a climaxes, the guitars bursting into distortion. The two go through constantly changing paces and phrases, never letting you relax for a moment.
The following track however, 1440: Exit Wargasmatron, opens with a big driving High On Fire sound before slowing down to an almost jam-like groove, and then moving onto downright beautiful guitar work as the rhythm team roll onwards for the remainder of the song. The band lock so tightly and work so naturally that it’s hard to feel anything less than appreciation for what is thrown at you.
Final track 793AD: The Harrying Of The Heathen begins with a sombre vibe of slow-paced, reverbed guitars and as usual, eventually falling into silence before the band blast off into a raging barrage of riffs and drums. The track goes into the same sort of brief silence, before background ambience rises, as the band enter soft, clean twangy jam – and again – we get a more energetic movement to finish it all off.
The album is just spectacular in terms of its riffs, heaviness and progression. It’s evident that Capricorns knew when to pull on the reigns to save momentum and then unleash overbearing grooves on you at the right time. It’s this suspensive self-control and biding of time (and riffs) that makes certain moments on this album so hard-hitting.
While there’s nothing mindblowingly different or experimental between each track on “Ruder Forms Survive”, this is certain to fulfil the wants and needs of any fan of this style of progressive sludge. If you need more heavy, instrumental music along the lines of Pelican, Bossk or Bongripper: then this is definitely for you.
Favourite tracks: : The First Broken Promise, 1440: Exit Wargasmatron, 1969: A Predator Among Us.