“Shunt,” the opening track on Centrifuge’s Visions Old, Feelings Cold, begins with eight kick drum beats in twelve seconds. Watch a second hand on the next clock you see to find out just how lumbering that is. At 1:40 into the song, we hear the first hint of a voice — some thickly chorused clean vocals, lightly draped over a non-distorted guitar riff, a slower than usual bass track, and that same steady, penetrating kick drum. That conglomeration continues until almost three and a half minutes into the song, where we really get our first glimpse of what Centrifuge is all about. A wall of fuzzed-out power chords hits us, moving so slowly that it’s frustrating. At four minutes, all four elements finally come together — the haunting, echoey vocals, the thick, murky guitar, the totally nasty bass, and the cumbrous drums — and form something awesome.
Unlike bands like Meshuggah where changes jump out at listeners from behind every riff, Centrifuge spends their time building the foundation of each song solidly. “Shunt” doesn’t actually begin rocking until somewhere around the 5:30 marker, and keeps it up for another two minutes before breaking apart back into its individual elements. They might spend a minute just establishing the drum beat. Got it? Ok, let’s move on to the bass. With five tracks stretching across almost 40 minutes, the band has no problem erecting a presence and laying down solid foundations for each song.
While the songs are constantly changing, none of them do so unnaturally. Unlike, say Metallica’s …And Justice For All, here the changes can almost be predicted. The songs aren’t long for long’s sake; the tracks are taking you on a journey, and whatever the length is just happens to be how long it takes to get “there” — wherever there is. The most beautiful part of the album occurs during songs like “Underneath”, where part A takes you to B, B transitions to C, C then moves into D. Right around that time you begin to notice that D has nothing to do with A, and yet it makes sense that you’re there, somehow. Nothing on Visions Old, Feelings Cold is circular; nothing ends where it began. Everything has a definite beginning, journey, and ending.
The slow pace of the album physically and mentally wears you out. After the first listen I felt like I’d been working out for an hour. Sweat was running down my face, and I literally felt exhausted. Fortunately on track four, Centrifuge offers a bit of relief with “Bleeder,” the most upbeat track on the disc. That’s all the break you’re getting, as track five hits us with the ten minute title track, combining lessons learned from the previous four tracks. The build, the bass, the heavy (oh my God the heavy), the repetition — it’s all here.
Centrifuge’s style of doom has more in common with Neurosis than it does with Black Sabbath. While most albums I listen to tend to inspire or excite me, Centrifuge’s Visions Old, Feelings Cold left me hot, thirsty, sweaty and exhausted. I couldn’t tell if my heart was going to stop or burst. What is this? Sludge? Heavy Rock? Doom? Sludge? What is Visions Old, Feelings Cold like? It’s like walking against the wind in a dream. It’s like wading through waist-high mud or snow. It’s like pushing a car. Uphill.
I can’t wait to do it again.
05. Want, Fear, Believe