This photo of Buried at Sea, which is clearly not collaged together, doesn't reflect the change of drummer for the band's current dates. Credit: Courtesy the artist

Chicago drone-doom veterans Buried at Sea haven’t had much chance to enjoy the cult following they’ve developed since parting ways in the mid-aughts. The shows on their current west-coast tour are their first since 2011, when they played the Alehorn of Power festival—and at that point, it’d been nearly seven years since their previous gig. 

Guitarist and vocalist Sanford Parker attributes the mystique that’s grown around Buried at Sea to the band’s brief life span and relative obscurity—they made just a few short tours during their original run, which began in 2001, and they were far from prolific in the studio. Despite Parker’s notoriety, both as a producer and as a member of several high-profile bands (Nachtmystium, Minsk, Corrections House), folks he runs into at shows sometimes don’t know about his role in Buried at Sea. Often they’ve never seen the group before. More than one person, he says, has told him something like “I’ve been waiting ten years for this moment.”

The Buried at Sea lineup still includes Parker on guitar and vocals, Jason Depew on guitar, and Brian Sowell on bass and vocals, but drummer Bill Daniel couldn’t do this tour—he’s been replaced, at least for now, by Brandon Pierce, formerly of doom band Ancestors and now of Deth Crux, who play 80s-style horror punk. Pierce lives in Los Angeles, as does Sowell.

On Wednesday, November 25, Buried at Sea play their second Chicago show in more than a decade, headlining Reggie’s Rock Club with the Atlas Moth, Sweet Cobra, and Something Is Waiting. They’ll be selling CD copies of a new reissue of their sole full-length, 2003’s Migration. A double-LP gatefold edition with an etched D side is due shortly on War Crime Recordings, the label Parker founded with his Corrections House bandmate Bruce Lamont (Yakuza, Bloodiest). And Heavy Cream Records is releasing a cassette version that includes Buried at Sea’s 2002 demo on the B side—it includes the track “The Aquanaut,” which I embedded in my Beer and Metal post about Aquanaut Brewing

The hugeness and density of Migration make it sound thrilling and terrifying even today, which is saying a lot considering the exponential gains in prestige and popularity that doom metal has enjoyed during the past ten years. The album is like the ash column from a colossal volcanic eruption, towering into the upper atmosphere and slowly getting bigger as the sky gets darker. You know you’re fucked when it reaches you, and there’s no point in trying to flee, but some part of your brain can’t help but get off on just how hair-raisingly awesome it is.

I’ve already spent several hours this week letting this monster of a record tenderize my head. Won’t you join me?

Philip Montoro

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid, and he’s also split two national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and one in in 2020 for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. Philip has played scrap metal in Lozenge, drummed with the Disasters, the Afflictions, and Brilliant Pebbles, and sung for the White Outs. He wrote the column Beer and Metal from 2012 till 2015, and hopes to do so again one day. You can also follow him on Twitter.