Ruff Majik wowed me in 2018 with their Seasons album (read our review here), a record of sonic doom excess rarely found from South African shores. It was refreshingly rough and filled to the brim with purple-tinged sludge, loose grooves unravelling into vast carpets of bong-stained jams that satisfied my stoner-deprived consciousness. And now they drop this bombshell square onto my ears. In a good way.
Let’s get one thing straight from the get-go – Tårn (pre-order and pre-save options here and vinyl here) is a different beast to its predecessor. Whereas Seasons was the sound of a band finding its feet through experimentation and interplay between the musicians, this record is a declaration of that same band now battle-ready, red-eyed, pumped with testosterone, and eager to whip your ass. At just over half the time through almost half the amount of songs, all the filler has been ruthlessly stripped away to reveal the heart and dirty black soul of Ruff Majik… and it’s both ugly and sexy at the same time, like a Roger Corman b-grade biker flick.
Without mucking about, the album opens with fire and putrid brimstone, announcing to all and sundry that the gloves are off and the fight has moved to the grimy street corner. “Schizophrenic” is a twisted blend of necro black metal in all its tremolo-picked glory and building-levelling down-tuned doom – whilst unexpected, it’s simply delightful in its passion and also the gusto that the lads pile into it. The song ebbs and flows between the two camps, tapping the sublime halfway through with a MONSTER bass breakdown; teeth rattle, plaster is loosened from the ceiling, pets run for shelter – it’s the sonic equivalent of an 18-wheeler filled with anvils very slowly driving directly over your head (which, as an avid fan of doom, is exactly what I seek). Whilst this chronic mash-up is not to be repeated elsewhere on the album (to the band’s credit, as they could have easily let it ride which would have diluted the impact), it’s quite obviously the crown jewel here and will be the talking point without question.
Check out the killer and hilarious video for “Schizophrenic” here:
The rest of the record is tight stoner doom unleashed with military precision and bud-sweetened delight, all the fat trimmed away to uncover a group that can write good songs and want to show you just how goddamn good they are with all the necessary arsenal: the production is swamped with bass and cavernous fury; the vocals are distant and otherworldly; guitars are fuzzed out to the max, almost to the point of their four-stringed brother-in-arms; and the drums are swinging and loose, but hit hard with intent. Songs like the insanely catchy “Dread Breath” and the perfectly-named “Seasoning The Witch” will stick with you long afterwards, the album artwork even more-so (because it’s just that wonderful). It’s the whole package, infernal and reeking of devilry.
Ruff Majik retain their S.A. doom king status with Tårn, proving once and for all that they are a band to be reckoned with. To say that I’m impressed with what they’ve achieved in such a short space of time barely covers the enthusiasm brewing within my inner fanboy – this is world-class stoner doom by a local band, and I’m just all kinds of proud.
A fairly recent sea-side shot of the band by Duvenage Photography.