Aiwass is an epic, one-man Psychedelic Doom project thick with heavy Stoner riffs and influenced heavily by Aleister Crowley, the English occultist who founded the religious movement of Thelema.
Led by Blake Carrera, Aiwass has gifted the world His Name Was Aiwass, an EP built upon hip-swinging grooves and deathly riffs.
Woven through all of this, though, is the occult influence—a factor that’s critical to truly understanding the Aiwass sound. While you’ll find plenty of bands in this space who bring haunting tones to the Doom forefront, Aiwass relies on endless doses of reverb to create an atmosphere that is as heavy as it is eerie.
With that characteristic firmly rooted in the Aiwass sound, founder Blake Carrera offers his EP, His Name Was Aiwass, as something unique in a scene where it’s quite easy to fall into the trap of sounding like someone else.
And although it’s true that you’ll occasionally hear the doom and gloom of Black Sabbath (think of the song “Black Sabbath”) and the ferocious attack of Kyuss (think “Green Machine”), it’s Carrera’s meticulous attention to detail and Crowley obsession that sets Aiwass apart from the vast majority of Doom and Stoner bands.
As previously mentioned, Aiwass is 100% Blake Carrera, who writes and records all of the music in Flagstaff, Arizona (check out our interview with Blake Carrera to learn more).
A relatively new project, a quick look through the Aiwass catalog shows a wide range of experimentation.
His Name Was Aiwass, however, pushes in a different direction. This trio of tracks shows a musician discovering a sound that is completely his own.
His Name Was Aiwass Review
Track One: Aphrodite
Thanks to “Aphrodite,” His Name Was Aiwass opens on a thundering bass line, one that hints at the full force of what’s to come. Although it reverberates out into the ether, there’s an underlying energy that’s impossible to deny.
This same energy blooms with Carrera’s characteristic vocals—vocals that are drenched in reverb and layered ever so carefully so that they seem to constantly wash over you from a great distance away, never quite reaching you but never quite halting their onslaught.
The guitars in “Aphrodite” are undeniably Aiwass: cloaked in dark fuzz and deliberately tight in delivery.
At the song’s apex, “Aphrodite” takes us by the hand and leads us through the hellish landscape Aiwass has created, one twisted in Psychedelia, Doom, and massive, skull-crushing riffs.
Track Two: Man As God
“Man As God” opens with two intriguing factors: ethereal strings and incessant cawing from birds overhead.
Like “Aphrodite,” “Man As God” relies heavily on reverb, but the vocals are set back for the pummeling, churning guitars and relentless drums to sit front and center.
There’s a mysticism here. “Man As God” carries the listener deep into its own soundscape—one that seems to constantly build as the song progresses. As with “Aphrodite,” “Man As God” is tight and deliberate, intricate and profound.
Track Three: Mythos
“Mythos” begins by wandering through the tapestry of haunting ether the first two tracks so carefully draped all around the listener.
Unlike the first two tracks, however, “Mythos” takes its time to build, relying heavily on thick riffs and bass lines where the string’s vibrations echo through the delivery.
“Mythos” also displays what has become part of the Aiwass signature: guitar solos that relies heavily on tremolo. When delivered through the characteristic Aiwass sound, these solos only emphasize the terrifying Doom delivery.
“I was born as a monster,” Carrera cries into the void, “I have lived as a god.”
In the Doom-laden world of Aiwass, we’re inclined to believe him. Although “Mythos” takes its time to explore a few different directions, it consistently returns back to what Aiwass does best: crafting haunt-filled soundscapes that obliterate the listener while pulling them deep, deep into the underground.
Final Score: 10/10
Pros: The Doom and Stoner scenes have become so refined that it’s often difficult to develop your own sound. Inevitably, everyone ends up being compared to one of the biggest hitters: Black Sabbath, Queens of the Stone Age, Clutch, Sleep, Kyuss, Electric Wizard.
And although there are moments where His Name Was Aiwass honors the genre’s forefathers, the occult influence is woven through the EP so well, Aiwass successfully unlocks a sound all its own.
That’s a difficult task to pull off, and the result is an exciting and refreshing take on the genre.
Cons: There’s really not a lot to complain about here; His Name Was Aiwass is composed of three tracks that consistently show streaks of songwriting brilliance.
If there’s any hole in His Name Was Aiwass, it could be the song selection for the EP itself. “Aphrodite” and “Man As God” are relatively tight tracks, while “Mythos” meanders.
This, then, is a matter of personal preference. After getting punched in the face by the first two tracks, I wanted “Mythos” to deliver the Fatality. And although “Mythos” is a heavy track filled with the doom and gloom of a forgotten graveyard, it’s not as immediately explosive as its predecessors.