It can be an incredibly satisfying feeling to discover a great band that was quietly flying under your radar. This is most definitely the case with Montreal, Canada’s Show of Bedlam, with whom I am ashamed to say I was completely unfamiliar until taking on this review of their new LP, Transfiguration.
I was pretty surprised by what I heard, but pleasantly so. Theirs is a style of doom that has pretty clear roots in post-hardcore, a sound I can get behind. Transfiguration is an oppressive sounding record, strongly aligned with the lyrical source matter, which often references uplifting topics such as mental illness, alienation, shame, and spending time in hospitals, among other things.
Sounds on this record adequately convey this feeling of chaotic expression, with some VERY loud percussion driving everything forward. Harsh synthesizers underscore the songs with a sort of unyielding sonic malaise. The guitars are suitably filthy, often reveling in their dissonance. Experiencing this record feels akin to fending off a sonic assault, steadily descending on your psyche from all sides. The record is topped off with a genuinely unnerving performance by vocalist Paulina Richards, whose practically unintelligible wailing and screaming feels right at home in the band’s toolbox, used to great effect to create the uneasy atmospheres of this LP.
Despite being a seven-track record, the lion’s share of Transfiguration‘s material resides in four main tracks, which clock in at eight or more minutes each. The remaining three tracks comprise a short instrumental riffer, “Transfiguration,” while the other two are very short atmospheric soundscape tracks. Since this type of music isn’t known for dynamic pacing, suffice it to say that the runtime of Transfiguration is just about perfect. The record ends before the dreary soundscapes, and bludgeoning instrumentals wear out their welcome.
To be honest, this type of post-hardcore influenced doom is pretty niche stuff, and I’m under no illusions that I’ll be converting a bunch of new fans with this write-up (although stranger things have happened.) If it happens that you are into this sort of songwriting approach, you will do well to check these guys out, just try not to get too depressed. Highly recommended.