Sporting a name that translates to "miner" in Russian, the German trio Shakhtyor exhibit a strong grasp of Doom metal songcraft on their self-titled debut album. Comprised of only four songs, the album - which is entirely instrumental - nevertheless provides over forty minutes of monstrous, post-metal influenced Doom ideally suited for those occasions when stress relief requires a soundtrack.
When describing Shakhtyor, epic is a good place to start. All four songs run over seven minutes in length, with the final two tracks both surpassing the 10-minute mark. The epic qualities of of the album aren't limited to just the duration, but the band's massive sound as well. Elements of Black Sabbath, Ufomammut, and Electric Wizard are blended together with Shakhtyor's unique riff patterns to produce a sound that is equal parts heavy, psychedelic, and mesmerizing. Guitarist Christian Herzog, bolstered by the clearly defined contributions of bass player Christian Müller, provides the centerpiece of the Shakhtyor style with fuzzy riffs that shift and swell among seemingly countless variations and patterns. Each song contains a hoard of variety as riffs and tempos are exploited almost to the point of exhaustion before Herzog and Müller abruptly alter their angle of attack. "E. Jasper", the leadoff track, finds the band tipping their hand right out of the gate as the song travels from an echoing guitar tone, through a forest of post-metal tremolo, into a valley of excessively plodding notes, to finally crest a peak of good ol' fashioned chugging riffs. The song quite literally has it all, with a dollop of cymbal thrown in for good measure.
The band doesn't reveal their entire bag of tricks on the first track, thankfully. "Hanschuhmann" adopts a much more sinister tone than the preceding song, blending many traditional Doom elements together with a touch of feedback noise. Herzog's leads are much crisper here, though the song certainly doesn't lack distortion. Shakhtyor delves deeper into psychedelic territory on "K.I." where the hypnotic qualities of riff repetition are used with effect. The leads and solos, which have a distinctly mind-altering quality to them, are stirring. The album wraps up with "Паук Риба", a song that finds Müller taking a greater role in the mix to bookend the track.
Even if instrumental albums aren't quite your bag, and to be perfectly honest they're not really mine, Shakhtyor is still an album that demands attention from Doom and Stoner fans. I was pleasantly surprised by how accessible the album was given the sheer amount of variation each song holds. Although originally released by the band in 2012, the Cyclone Empire label is set to re-release the album along with a special vinyl edition containing a bonus track. Keep an eye out for it.