Review Summary: A horror film in 7 parts.
'Ornothopsieism in Seven Movements' is, quite frankly, horrifying. A 22 minute track set into 7 clearly defineable tracks, Columbia-based Bathe set out with the overused yet ever-present aim of making an album as unsettling as they could muster - and although it's questionable whether or not they wholly succeed in this department, they have created a debut album that is far more enjoyable than the original idea would lend to.
From the slurry pool of genres used across 'Ornothopsieism...'s length there are elements of sludge, grindcore, hardcore and noise which combine together to make something wholeheartedly obnoxious. The first two Movements (the name given to the individual sections here) open up the septych with a distinctively muddy feel, keeping everything dense and largely low-register while vocalist Alex Strickland takes centre stage, switching between a low southern roar and a more throat-shredding scream. The drums meander and the riffs pound, building to a mid-tempo climax similar to a Thou or Eyehategod passage; by this point, Bathe seem content to sit in this heavy, thick mire they've created themselves, and it would be perfectly acceptable for them to do so.
However, then something changes. A peal of feedback leads into a modulating whine, sounding akin to a gale that flies in through the eyeballs and ears, circulating the brain and piercing the brain like waves of neuralgia. From this comes an explosion in energy which is maintained across the following track in a similar yet higher-paced vein to the initial tracks, but the scene is set for the gut-wrenching finale that the final three movements yield. Off-kilter repetitive riffs dance with shrieks, screams, blast beats and poorly tuned celestas, permeated by granular distortion and a constantly building feeling of trepidation leading into Movement VII where, among other things, a woman's terrified cries can be heard alongside the feedback and doomy riffs present throughout. Clichéd, yes, but carried through with enough conviction that it somehow escapes being laughable despite the trope.
As an exercise in unpleasantness, 'Ornothopsieism in Seven Movements' ticks all of the right boxes - thundering, twisted and occasionally somewhat difficult to listen to, this is not an album that can be listened to lightly. However, the more one listens the more is picked up and noted upon, which means that Bathe's introductory piece is a highly rewarding, remarkably well thought-out piece of progressing sludge that is much more than a simple blunder into mindless aggression.