Robedoor Rancor Keeper

[Release the Bats; 2007]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: drone, dark ambient, psych noise
Others: Pocahaunted, The Skaters, Yellow Swans

If you’re a completist, getting into a band with an ongoing, mammoth discography can be pretty daunting. Where to start? Is it worth the exhaustive effort? All those fucking eBay purchases.... In an instance like Robedoor, it’s best just to dive into what’s most readily available and try to keep afloat. By design, Robedoor’s ritualistic bent, both in performance and in exhaustive rate of release, doesn’t call for 'best of's or grand statements, and Rancor Keeper doesn’t stand out in Robedoor’s catalog as much as it highly complements the California duo’s ongoing dialog. Because of its status as a full fledged CD (as opposed to the fistfuls of CDRs, cassettes, split LPs, cave etchings, etc), Rancor Keeper will no doubt be touted as the most definitive Robedoor release to date, and perhaps it is in some ways.

Availability aside, they have distilled the finest points of their murky haze into something more brutal than atmospheric. Whereas some of their recordings revel in a dark, euphoric pastiche, Rancor Keeper sits more on the confrontational side, pummeling listeners with thick buzz-saw drones, moaning vocals, and cavernous percussion. From the jarring opening of “Empty Temple,” which butts in somewhere mid-performance, Rancor Keeper begins in the deep end and continues to thicken over the course this first piece. Things are more delicate on “Abyss Whisperer,” although tension remains high, the band never knowing whether their washed out drum chants will begin to clip and get swallowed in noise. It’s this push and pull, albeit with a narrow spectrum of sound, that makes Rancor Keeper’s subtleties as strong as its onslaughts. In “Wendigo Psychosis,” Robedoor let themselves off their leash one final time for a speaker-bleeding meltdown, creating one of the most intense moments of their recorded history. It’s a strong release for Robedoor: a must for any fan and a good introduction for newcomers to form an opinion with. After all, only you can decide how much to fetishize out-of-print obscurities, and Robedoor are definitely worth making that decision over.

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