The Stoner Doom community is a small one, but there are occasional benefits to running a music blog that covers this little niche.
For Monster Riff, one of those benefits is having a behind-the-scenes look at Aiwass, the Aleister Crowley-inspired Psychedelic Doom project from Blake Carrera.
Carrera has been spearheading the Aiwass project primarily as a solo artist since early 2021—and its only gotten better with every release.
The middle of 2021 saw the release of the His Name Was Aiwass EP, a three-pack that demonstrated Carrera’s penchant for combining Psychedelic soundscapes with thunderous Doom.
Later that year, Aiwass launched Wayward Gods, the project’s debut album and a stunning collection of ambitious tracks.
And then there was The Eastern Scrolls split EP with Aawks, released in August of 2023. Here’s what we wrote about the Aiwass portion:
Frightening, cold, and unsettling, “The Unholy Books” is, at its core, classic Aiwass. The vocals are strange and ethereal, the guitars are massive and layered, and the song marches forward like a loaded shotgun waits for you at the conclusion. Meanwhile, the lead guitar cries into the darkness (which will remind long-time fans of “Call of the Siren” from Wayward Gods).
And all of that brings us to present day. On Friday, October 13, Aiwass is releasing its second album: The Falling.
Once again, Carrera has outdone himself.
As we previously mentioned, Aiwass has existed primarily as a solo project (and was mostly a solo project for The Falling), and it’s based out of Austin, TX. Originally inspired by Doom stalwarts Monolord, Aiwass has consistently expanded its sound to incorporate more and more Psychedelic elements and experimentation.
And on The Falling, Carrera tapped Grant Husselman—famous for polishing King Buffalo’s sound—for mixing and co-production.
Additional credits on The Falling:
- Vocals: Niuvis Martin (“Prometheus”)
- Engineering: Edsel Holden
- Cover Art: Justyna Koziczak
The Falling Album Review
Release Date: October 13, 2023
Label: King Volume Records
Track 1 – Prometheus
Listen to “Prometheus,” and you’ll get a sense of Carrera’s ambitions. Opening with haunting bells and terrifying female chants, “Prometheus” is as unsettling as the intro to Black Sabbath, but it adopts its own sort of musical horror.
“Prometheus” is a slow build, offering layer upon layer upon layer of instrumentation until we finally hear Carrera’s first lyric around the 3:00 mark. As we’ve come to expect at this point, his vocals are modified to haunting effect—which is only heightened by the backup vocals.
“Prometheus” is easily Carrera’s best and most ambitious work to date, but he’s not done yet—there’s plenty more coming on The Falling.
Track 2 – Gnosis
Depressing and heavy, “Gnosis” is an ultra-dramatic song that wavers somewhere between the ethereal and Doom. The layered vocals are as effective as they’ve ever been from Carrera, and those screeching guitars are as unsettling as they are moving.
Track 3 – The Light of Evil
“The Light of Evil” is a steady headbanger with traces of early Aiwass in its undercurrent, a blend of “Man As God” and today’s matured Aiwass sound.
Track 4 – Be Not A Man
Guitar lovers rejoice! “Be Not A Man” starts off steeped in the traditional Aiwass Doom before slipping into a steady riff with bright guitar solos linking vocal lines together. “Be Not A Man” is the perfect proving ground for Carrera’s full bag of tricks—and you still get a deep sense of the album’s ethereal, Psychedelic side.
“Be Not A Man” was another single ahead of the album’s release, and it definitely deserved it.
Track 5 – Crossing the Veil
“Crossing the Veil” gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it, and it did so again while writing this review.
Here, you’ll find an injection of Western/Country influence, while the bones of the track remain rooted in a gloomy, heartbreaking Psychedelic Doom.
The entire song concludes on a gut-busting solo, and “Crossing the Veil” successfully serves as an exclamation point to the end of a stellar album.
Final Thoughts on The Falling
Final Score: 10/10
Standout Tracks: “Prometheus,” “Be Not A Man,” “Crossing the Veil”
Pros: I don’t throw around the phrase “Album of the Year” lightly. And while I realize I’m incredibly behind on new releases for 2023, The Falling is currently on my shortlist for Album of the Year.
It’s simply that good.
Once again, Aiwass pushes the envelope on what Doom can be, slipping beyond the typical tropes (and pitfalls) to deliver something complex, challenging, and enthralling.
Bringing Grant Husselman into the fold for this album was brilliant; every layer of sound is carefully placed and arranged, so the record is as beautiful as it sophisticated.
With so many pieces perfectly assembled, The Falling isn’t just an album.
It’s an event.
Cons: I’ve been following Aiwass closely for a few years, and the project doesn’t just get better album by album. It gets better song by song.
But this isn’t your big brother’s Doom Metal. The Falling is a complicated album, and it’ll prove challenging for folks who prefer the raw brutality of Electric Wizard or the quaking charm of Monolord.
Although that will alienate a few people, I suspect it’ll also help push it ahead among critics, especially those on The Doom Charts.