Album review: Old Horn Tooth – Mourning Light

An expertly-crafted, ultra-heavy slice of doom from London weightmongers Old Horn Tooth…

Album review: Old Horn Tooth – Mourning Light
Nick Ruskell

Old Horn Tooth are one of those bands for whom massive heaviness isn’t so much a decision as simply What They Are. Those with their ear to the vibrations of the British doom underground over the past few years will already know how deeply it is ingrained into the London trio, and how naturally their slow groove pours out of them. So it is that these four lengthy tracks proceed with the power of a steam train chuffing its way uphill, but even by their own standards, there’s a gloriousness to Mourning Light that outshines even the band’s own previous personal bests.

It’s a fiendishly simple trick: build around a riff and examine it from every possible angle, all the while piling on volume and fuzz. First-glance (and well fitting) comparisons might be made to the enormous sonic vistas usually heard from U.S. riff-lords YOB, or Conan’s amplifier worship, but it just as quickly becomes clear that Old Horn Tooth have a vibration all of their own.

With a neat handle on tunefulness as well as heaviness, opener Precipice sweeps you up in its wake, invitingly weighty, rather than repellent. It’s a similar case for the monstrous No Salvation, bursting into a glorious mid-section that’s almost like Soundgarden with a dying battery. It’s Old Horn Tooth’s mastery of slowness that makes this such a good thing. Within it all, they do much without really changing a lot, if you look closer at the hypnotic guitars are doing. It's why each of these songs top quarter of an hour without getting dull, why epic, 21-minute closer Invisible Agony can go almost a full six minutes of bass and drum build up before it properly drops.

Doom is about more than being slow. Slow is just the arena in which it operates. It’s what bands can do at such tempos that separates those who know what they’re up to from those who don’t. Old Horn Tooth don’t seem to understand anything else. On Mourning Light, they are, indeed, masters of the riff.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: YOB, Conan, Sleep

Mourning Light is out now via London Doom Collective

Check out more:

The best of Kerrang! delivered straight to your inbox three times a week. What are you waiting for?