Doom metal is no stranger to the single-song album – from Ufomammut’s Eve to Ogre’s Plague of the Planet to the most obvious example. Oslo trio Saint Karloff follows in these familiar footsteps with their sophomore album, Interstellar Voodoo, a one-track, 42-minute effort.
This record starts off all slow and Sabbathy, with a couple nods to Sleep’s magnum opus as well. (It’s not the same riff, but falls within the same ballpark.) Around the two-minute mark, they kick into a solid mid-tempo groove, that’ll get heads nodding like “Dragonaut,” before meandering about in desert rock territory, as the initial vocal kicks in about 3:30 in. Verses have more of a Witchcraft/Graveyard feel, with a coupla psychedelic detours along the way.
Things get pretty weird about six and half minutes in, with a fuzzy sonic exploration a la Frank Zappa that gives way to a screaming guitar solo on top of an up-tempo Hawkwind backbeat. They continue along this pace for a couple minutes, segueing into a more 70’s “Train Kept ‘a Rollin’” blues rock feel, ahead of a jammy riff around the 8:30 mark – and all this before we get to the second verse.
The pace picks up again around 10 minutes in, as they revisit the speedy, interstellar space rock, before hitting us with a devastating stoner/doom riff about a minute later. From there, things get more spartan and post-rock, as the bass and guitar play off each other without any percussion. It’s only around the 14:30 mark that they slowly start building up into another retro-rockin’ verse.
Voices are raised against a building backdrop around the 17-minute mark, as a mighty roar unleashes a sea of molten riffage. This same structure repeats for another verse, before a face-melting doomy-as-fuck guitar solo 18 minutes in. A couple more Grave/craft verses follow, along with a trippy, jammy instrumental break ahead of the next crashing wave of doom at 20:30, and yet another solo that starts just shy of 22.
The 23-minute mark signals another shift in tempo, similar to something from Sleep’s The Sciences, while the next couple verses ooze Led Zeppelin. Then, around 26:30, the song morphs into something more akin to OM, driven by a meditative bass line and backed by what might be bongos. It sounds like they throw in some keyboards ahead of the half-hour mark, too, along with some Santana-like guitar leads.
After four or five minutes, they break out of their Santana-infused funk with another uber-heavy doom riff, leading us back to more stop-start riff rock at the 33-minute mark, and another Robert Plant wail some 30 seconds later. After a fade-out at 35:30, they return to the Sabbathian stomp, with some wah-pedal/keyboard accents, gradually mellowing out, and maybe even adding a background flute as they trudge along for the final few minutes.
(Majestic Mountain/Ozium Records)