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They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but no lie I first listened to Saros the debut LP by LA’s Wovoka because of the album art. Look closely and take in the pristine linework hidden in its black white and gold color scheme. What precisely is going on? It looks as though the disemboweled entrails of some human sacrifice on a distant altar are turning into a poisonous snake. In general it’s foolish to think that a band might sound good simply because they picked a creative and tasteful cover for their album, but in this instance good artistic sensibilities telegraph good musical sensibilities.

Wovoka play the kind of sprawling atmospheric sludge that probably peaked in popularity around a decade ago. Every year the subgenre still produces a handful of excellent releases and Wovoka’s is one of them. The word saros refers to the regular span of time that passes between the earth, sun and moon forming a relatively straight line, and the music Wovoka play here reflects those themes of ritual, as well as elongated periods of time. Most importantly, Wovoka manage to do what their forebears in Neurosis did, and capture a sense of natural force that is larger and more powerful than the efforts of the band members themselves. Most importantly (this is the bit most bands like this forget), Saros manage to keep my attention for the full span of all of their songs-some of that comes from the group’s relatively more pronounced hardcore influence as compared to many of their peers. It’s a tall task to ask people to consider things vastly beyond their compassion as well as take in music for seven or eight minutes at a time in succession, but Wovoka pull it off.

—Joseph Schafer

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Saros drops on Battleground Records. Follow Wovoka on Facebook.

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