Album Review: BASK’s “Ramble Beyond”

In order to pinpoint what makes BASK’s metal so hauntingly beautiful, it might be dutiful to stare into the vast reaches of their influences.

Whether it’s the cathartic nature of the relentless breakdowns that sucks you in, or the level of charisma and passion they put into every emotive note, it’s undeniably southern metal.

The Asheville-based quartet birthed a sound early on that skillfully mixed influences from stadium rock, metal, southern rock, Americana, progressive rock with stoner rock escapades. Their debut album, American Hollow, was a 6-track introduction to their own unique approach to rock ’n’ roll.

The band’s sophomore album, Ramble Beyond, continues the conversation they started on American Hollow, but with more focus. They’ve shifted just slightly away from lighter classic rock and traditional southern rock themes, towards a darker, heavier feel.

The breakdowns on Ramble Beyond venture through the dark underbelly of tonal glory. The builds are thicker, more ramped up and cathartic as hell. The climb out of the slower, quieter moments sludges up a mountain of riff glory before summiting with a full assault of the band’s insane power.

Toying with more polyrhythms, and sweeter vocals, BASK is tighter as a unit on their second album, no doubt a result of years of touring, and seem to have reached a new level of comfort with each other as musicians. While moments on this album become predictable, they are nevertheless enticing.

The vocals have been toned down considerably from the first album. Guttural screams have given way to straight, ethereal singing with primal cries, often buried or leveled equally in the mix with more pronounced, heavier guitars and a rhythm section that would be the envy of any rock ’n’ roll band.

Taking cues from Allman Brothers jams to sludge metal riffs and Americana soul, BASK’s sound emerges more acutely on the new album as Southern gothic metal that is as dark and dreadful as it is soaring and beautiful.

The first track and first single off Ramble Beyond seems to encapsulate the album’s ethos. “Asleep in the Orchard” opens with a sweet, folky acoustic guitar arpeggio with lingering, ominous long tones rising in the first minute. A full assault of the band quickly reminds you this is not your daddy’s southern rock, before everything again slows into a molasses melody ripe with haunting solos.

BASK does an exceptional job of telling a wide range of stories in their music. Ramble Beyond is only six tracks, but it has a novel’s worth of shifting ideas, harmonies and melodies echoing simple notions expanded on in complex layers.

This is southern metal at its finest because it harps on all the strongest aspects of traditional southern rock styles in an original and unique manner.

Ramble Beyond will be available March 24th. For now, you can stream and purchase the first two singles below.