30 Sept 2012

Alesmith Wee Heavy and Loss’s Despond

The beer 

Wee Heavy is not about colour. Ignore how it looks.

It smells like Heaney’s The Tollund Man.  All peat, bog and ancestry.

Beers that smell like this generally taste like the worst available whisky available to man.

Not this beer.

You wait for, anticipate the brutality, but it never comes.

Peat aromas are such an indicator of impending harshness that when sweet smoothness unfurls, complimented by subtle wood-chip chewiness, you feel at one with the trees, at one with the hills.

At one with everything that grows.

This is the beer that you want to tell the world about. To shake them until they listen.

There are no banal flavour specifics to go into here.

Articulate infinity. Define existence.

Language does not account for these things.

The album 

I don’t like to think about what music is.

I cannot comprehend how it evolved.

I am unable to explain what a profound effect it has on me. Sometimes it feels like all I am.

When I discover a band or artist that instantly forges a connection with my psyche, with my very being, it scares and delights me in equal measure.

Scares because I'm not sure where it will lead me, delights because it confirms that there is something more.

Loss’s Despond ticks all of those bizarre boxes.

I don’t imagine for a minute this is an album for everyone.

The growled – not shouted, not screamed – vocals will turn off pretty much everyone not well versed in heavy music.

I would hope the enlightened few might persevere, because is the music I've been looking for for a while.

Funeral doom meets blues meets the void.

Ultra melodic, super harmonic, guitar-centred misery.

The match

Contrast is often used as a device in song writing.

Quiet / loud is the most obvious example to cite, but there are plenty of others, such as fast / slow or melodic / discordant.

Loss’s Despond is relentlessly miserable and slow. But there is a contrast at work to great effect: that of beauty and sadness.

In this case a fragile, delicate beauty and a vast, endless sadness.

These two words are not antonyms, but they are opposing sensations that should feel very different.

They are, however, entangled. It seems to me neither can exist outside the context of the other.

It seems natural to behold both at the very same moment. I believe it may be something to do with the human condition

There’s a fleeting line in American Splendor which tells me I'm not alone in thinking this:

“Life seemed so sweet and so sad...and so hard to let go of in the end.”

And, without wanting to force a point or belittle the concepts I've named here, so it is with beer in a way.

The never-ending, perpetually-doomed affair of the bitter and the sweet.

Folded-armed, refusing to look at one another one minute, a naked, swirling embrace of passion the next.

Sometimes one the more dominant, sometimes the other. Sometimes equals.

Contrasting and complementary all at the same time.

The essence of what great beer is and the defining quality that Wee Heavy has in bucket-loads.

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