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Bask – III Award winner

by Santiago Puyol at 11 December 2019, 1:28 PM

BASK, quartet from Asheville, has several genres deep down on their DNA, taking cues, textures and songwriting tricks from everything between Stoner Rock, Americana, Desert Rock, Southern Rock, Psychedelia, Alternative Country, Post Rock and Post Metal, with a little dash of Progressive and Alternative Rock. This rich tapestry of influences bleed through all of "III," the aptly titled third full-length of the band.

Airy Desert Rock sounds and lovely guitar melodies sets things in motion on "Three White Feet." Scott Middleton drums steal the show here, though, keeping things steady through its sweet time signature changes. Bluesy elements embellish the beautiful songwriting, bringing to mind both the more ethereal side of QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE and the quietest moments SLEEP. A memorable chorus kicks some power into it.

"New Dominion" comes next, flowing perfectly from the previous track. A spidery, almost jangly guitar line sets the base to the track, while clashes of DEFTONES-like, textured guitar and busy tom and cymbal work provide some dark energy to the track. At times, it gets a little reminiscent of a couple of "Koi No Yokan"-era DEFTONES songs.

Some Folk influences come into play on "Stone Eyed" with its catchy riffs and playful rhythm. Jesse Van Note’s basslines keep things groovy and urgent before an exploratory and psychedelic heavy Blues jam. Organ adds a gothic Southern Rock edge as background texture.

"Rid of You" brings the Alternative Rock sound upfront, with subtle R.E.M. inspiration on its first half. A Stoner-driven, effect-heavy solo punctuates the second half, giving way to it epic outro. This lovely and atypical ballad keeps on building towards its climax, a respite before the intense two-parter "Noble Daughters.”

The first half of the two-part song is "The Stave," an Americana and Classic Rock-influenced track with some potent riffing by Ray Worth and Zeb Camp. About two thirds into the track there is a percussive breakdown followed by an introspective and slow-churning, Post-Rockish coda.

The main riff from this coda gives way to "The Bow," the second half of "Noble Daughters.” In spite of being the longest track here, around six minutes, it still feels accessible. The first three minutes features some of the most radio-friendly material on the album. Meanwhile, the last three minutes takes an atmospheric route with a massive crescendo filled with exquisite work by Worth and Camp. The rhythm section provides a strong backbone for the melodies.

"Maiden Mother Crone" might as well be the best song on the record. A full-blown Alt-Country ballad with scenic fiddle and banjo textures that would not feel out of place on an UNCLE TUPELO or Jason Isbell record. The slide guitar adds to the vulnerability of the emotional track. It also features haunting vocal harmonies and great percussion work.

Bask shows a resonant sense of melody in its third album. The songwriting might not be extremely complex, but it feels urgent and conveys authentic emotions. The gorgeous production of the album also has to be recognized, and the mixing is virtually perfect. Everything is audible and instruments get enough room to breathe. Even in its Stoner Rock moments, the album never feels muddy or buried on effects as sometimes happens with the genre.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

1. Three White Feet
2. New Dominion
3. Stone Eyed
4. Rid of You
5. Noble Daughters I: The Stave
6. Noble Daughters II: The Bow
7. Maiden Mother Crone
Scott Middleton – Drums
Jesse Van Note – Bass
Ray Worth – Guitars & Vocals
Zeb Camp – Guitars & Vocals
Record Label: Season of Mist


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Edited 01 February 2023

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