We present a republication of Monster Riff’s review of The Eastern Scrolls, the split album by Canadian band Aawks and Texan act Aiwass, released on Black Throne Productions on August 25.
What do you get when you mix devastating gloom with party fuzz?
Well, you might wind up with something like The Eastern Scrolls, the swirling, heavy-hitting split between Aawks, Canada’s bubbly Psychedelic Doom band responsible for Heavy On the Cosmic, and Aiwass, the Austin-based Doom experience behind projects like Wayward Gods.
Patrick had both bands on the Monster Riff Presents podcast to hear more about The Eastern :
The Eastern Scrolls is a one-two punch inspired by the life of Russian mystic Madame Helena Blavatsky, one of the founders of Theosophy and an all-around fascinating human being who broke the mold of what women could be in 19th century Russia.
Aawks is a warm and fuzzy cosmic acid trip mixed with thick Stoner grooves and massive Doom low ends. Writing their own brand of ultra-accessible heavy music, Aawks channels the likes of Electric Wizard, Queens of the Stone Age, and Fu Manchu into a unique but familiar style of Metal that appeals to a wide range of music fans.
Aiwass is the ever-evolving Doom-based and Occult-inspired brainchild of Blake Carrera. While the project’s earliest works were blasts of Stoner Rock fun, the debut EP, Wayward Gods, was a sophisticated blend of pummeling riffs and orchestrated emotional high points. Today, The Eastern Scrolls is a convenient rest stop ahead of the upcoming album with King Volume Records, The Falling, coming October 13.
The Eastern Scrolls Split Review
Release Date: August 25, 2023
Label: Black Throne Productions
Track 1: 1831 (Aawks)
“1831” is heavier than Aawks ever was on Heavy on the Cosmic. With a terrifying opening riff reminiscent of Electric Wizard and vocals that sound like a hostile alien invasion, “1831” is immediately unsettling. Eventually, though, the song’s rough, Doom-influenced sides are balanced by swirling guitars and raucous guitar licks packed with Stoner Rock flair (and fun).
In many ways, “1831” is different from anything on the band’s debut. It’s heavy. It’s risky. It’s angry. But it still maintains that undercurrent of distinct Aawks charms.
That is, until the second half of the song. Here, we find another moment of Aawks growth. The big fuzz is stripped away, and we’re left with a soft but dramatic outro that extends more than six minutes. It’s beautiful, sure, but it’s also unexpected on a song like this—almost like an extra track was snuck onto the split.
It’s a risk, but it works.
Check it out:
Track 2: The Unholy Books (Aiwass)
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).
Like “1831,” “The Unholy Books” contains a few different movements. The middle of the song is lighter (in that ever-heavy Aiwass way), and the conclusion features a variety of intriguing guitar techniques that are new to the Aiwass sound. This is a heavy romp with plenty to love.
Ultimately, “The Unholy Books” is a song that should be listened to like every other Aiwass track: As loudly as possible so you can wrap every note around you.
Pros: The Eastern Scrolls packs a cohesive wallop, and that wasn’t exactly expected. Yes, Aawks and Aiwass are both masters of their respective sounds, but they’re also incredibly different. Historically, Aawks has thrived on mixing its brand of Doom with upbeat riffs and fun, lighthearted melodies, while Aiwass has built its reputation on grimy gloom that pulls you into the grave.
But The Eastern Scrolls works. Aawks has turned in a massively heavy performance—something the band does without sacrificing their identity. Aiwass, meanwhile, slows things down to replace its heavier tones with a darker, gloomier sound.
So, while each song is undeniably unique to each band, they join together for a powerful punch. The Eastern Scrolls successfully honors Madame Helena Blavatsky—and listening to this split might even make you feel like her spirit is in the room with you, gravely nodding her head along with each riff.
Cons: Using Madame Helena Blavatsky as an inspiration for the songwriting process was a stroke of genius. Flip through her life story, and you’ll find she’s as Metal as people get. But if the Madame Helena Blavatsky angle wasn’t pushed so aggressively in the marketing for this split, it would have evaded the vast majority of listeners.
So, although the split works as a solid music project, it could become even more compelling with more obvious ties back to Madame Helena Blavatsky—through clearer vocals, a different choice of audio samples, or some other strategy one the bands’ part. (I will concede, of course, that The Eastern Scrolls was a good starting point for a name!)
Still, that won’t interrupt the listening experience—or the enjoyment of the endless riffs found within.