Posts Tagged ‘Doom’

Godthrymm - Reflections

First published here:

Godthrymm’s ‘A Grand Reclaimation’ was my first introduction to Hamish Glencross’ new project and it was great to see him return to his doom roots with that EP. ‘Reflections’ comes two years later, and is a natural progression from last year’s ‘Dead in the Studio’ EP. It is out now through Profound Lore, and almost an hour of massive, epic doom awaits you within…

Opener ‘Monsters Lurk Herein’ has more than a touch of My Dying Bride about it in the stunning, weeping guitar tone. But it lacks the sometimes overwrought sorrowfulness, feeling miserable yet determined in its execution. This is pretty much as traditionally Yorkshire doom as you’ll find in today’s world and it is still a sight to behold even though the iconic albums of the genre were made 25 years ago. ‘Among the Exalted’ has some of the loneliest sounding melodies I’ve ever heard, while the creaking ‘The Sea As My Grave’ feels like it slipped off the studio desk during recordings of ‘Turn Loose the Swans’, and has just been found. I don’t want to keep referring to My Dying Bride, because Godthrymm’s output is as good as anything they ever did, but there is an undeniable link.

‘Reflections’ is decidedly more epic though; the vast ‘The Light of You’ is a magnificent vista of doom, especially when the pace kicks up about halfway through. This extra little bit of brutality is a nice little change, but it doesn’t last long enough. ‘The Grand Reclamation’ returns from their debut, and it sounds even better than the first time I heard it, whilst ‘Cursed Are the Many’ is one of the more emotionally poignant bits of heavy music I have ever heard.

By the time the gloomy ‘Chasmic Sorrows’ winds up, ‘Reflections’ has left you drained and empty. Sure, it was worth every second but there isn’t any more. Possibly the truest heartbreak of all is that this album has to finish. But put it back on. Then everything will be ok again. ‘Reflections’ is the first must-hear record of 2020 for me, and it will almost certainly still stand tall at the end of the year when lists must be constructed. A magnificent addition to the great legacy of British doom.

Voidlurker - Industrial Nightmare

First published here:

Voidlurker call Birmingham, England home, and the grinding industrial weight of the city’s bleak history weighs heavily on ‘Industrial Nightmare’. The weight of their home town’s musical legacy is also undeniable, and this new four track EP feels like an encapsulation of both influences. Having recently visited the home of Sabbath, I can see exactly where this dark and miserable music comes from… It is out now through APF Records.

The churning riff that opens the album is a thing of murky, dense beauty. Drowning in fuzzy guitar tones, the elephantine groove is unmistakable and the tortured snarl of frontman Brad Thomas is the perfect accompaniment to the crushing apocalypse wrought from his guitar. Low end is also a speciality of Voidlurker, as the bass heavy density of ‘Jeffrey Doomer’ feels like if Kyuss lived in an urban sprawl and had a heroin habit. It’s also incredibly infectious, and immediately prompted me to repeat it again and again.

The Electric Wizard-esque intro to ‘Rotten Seed’ is glorious, as is the bleak rumble of closer ‘Bitchcraft and Misery’, which returns from their debut demo. Sadly there’s no sign of that demo’s other killer track ‘Ravenous’ but hey, we can’t have everything. Be thankful that we have this though. You’ll struggle to find a more potent three piece in the sludge/doom genre than Voidlurker. They appear to have little interest in reinventing the genre but have a vested interest in keeping it as heavy as possible. The mammoth groove that strides throughout is simply stunning, and I can imagine live they would be a sight to behold. ‘Industrial Nightmare’ is teeth-rattlingly heavy, and anyone who likes testing the foundations of their home should get this and turn it up.

The return after ten long years for British doomlords The River is very welcome, and their new record ‘Vessels into White Tides’ will have to work hard to follow up 2009’s glorious ‘In Situ’. It is out now through Nine Records.

The first thing you’ll notice about The River is the lush production, that adds heft and poignancy to everything the band produce. Opener ‘Vessels’ still possesses that dense, My Dying Bride-esque misery that I loved on ‘In Situ’, and the melancholic croon of vocalist and guitarist Jenny Newton really adds to the overall atmosphere. I’ve listened to a lot of this kind of music recently, but I appreciate how The River don’t really sound too similar to all the others. Sure, they are slow and at points devastatingly heavy, but they have really grasped a natural melancholic sound that lifts them above the rank and file.

The delicate swells of the acoustic ‘Open’ is a poignant reminder that some of the best doom you can feel isn’t always monolithic riffs. I mean, the preceding ‘Into Tides’ was full of those, but this is a perfect juxtaposition. The soothing build of ‘Passing’ slowly becomes almost Jesu-like in its execution, and the silky flow of the instrumental closer ‘Tides’ is glorious.

I really like this record and The River have become one of my favourite discoveries of this year thus far. ‘Vessels into White Tides’ retains a vast swath of that traditional British gloom and heaviness but there is so much more to it. The River have crafted an album that I found too late for last year’s year end lists but I tell you what, it will be getting a lot of airplay this year. Haunting.

Frayle - 1692

Originally published here:

The dark rock/doom stylings of Cleveland’s Frayle have come creeping into the light, with their debut full length ‘1692’, coming out on February 14th through Laybare Recordings/Aqualamb Records. A record that draws influences as far and wide as Cocteau Twins, Kyuss, Chelsea Wolfe and Sleep, they straddle a thin line between rumbling doom and almost dreamy, ethereal pop sensibilities.

The hypnotising drone of the introduction, coupled with the whispering vocals, leads us perfectly into the haunting dark rock gloom of the title track. Vocalist Gwyn Strang has a gorgeous voice, at once both eerie and yet fragile and beautiful. It flows in perfect synchronicity with the bleak drive of the guitar work. ‘Gods of No Faith’ adds in some male growls, but the main focus is always that ghostly interplay between the heavy and the light. ‘Darker Than Black’ is my favourite track here by far; riffs swaying in hallucinogenic atmospheres while dense drumming underpins probably the best vocal performance on the album.

This is a record that has become addictive over multiple listens. There has always been an important place for female voices in doom; the fragile nature of the style lends itself well to the more haunting female vocal, but there is something special about Frayle’s contributions. It isn’t just big riffs but a more nuanced approach, allowing the heaviness to build not just from the guitar but from Strang’s storytelling. Weaving tales of anger, heartbreak, resolution and hypocrisy, she adds that intangible that takes ‘1692’ away from the crowd and into a space that they alone inhabit. The brooding ‘Burn’ takes you in directions you wouldn’t expect, as does the gentle gloom of ‘If You Stay’. But it is the Triptykon-esque darkness pervading parts of ‘Godless’ that really gets to me in a primal way.

‘1692’ is a record that will stay with me all year. It gives me the same feeling as when I heard Mount Salem’s ‘Endless’ for the first time a few years ago; I didn’t know music could be this bleak and yet so beautiful. Frayle conjure those same feelings, and for that makes this a real gem. As they say themselves, this is a place to feel vulnerable amongst the chaos, and that is a welcome sight indeed.

Withered Fist is made up of former and current members of Irish sludge/doom band Two Tales of Woe, and have just released a debut EP entitled ‘This is My Mountain’ on New Year’s Day. A three track EP of slow and melodic heaviness awaits those who seek and find this band.

A gloomy, clean guitar leads us to the start of the journey, while a soulful vocal glides over some fuzzed out riffs. Sounding like some heavier, lost 70s prog gem, Withered Fist are captivating immediately with their unique voice. You’re not likely to hear anything like this in a lot of modern doom. There’s no nihilistic grinding misery, no galloping sword and sorcery. This feels like the earthy rumble of a simpler time, where a great vocal and an epic riff was enough. Withered Fist bring it all in the first track, let alone the insatiable groove of ‘The Dread’ or the sprawling closer ‘The Journey’. ‘This is My Mountain’ is the vessel for what could be a truly special musical output for the future.

My first truly great experience of 2019; a record that will haunt me all year with its simple purity of spirit and raw honesty that spills from every facet. Withered Fist had me invested from the first track, and I’m going to be listening to this all year long. It has been a long time since I came across a record that makes me want everyone I know to hear it. Just, yeah, beautiful!

Northern Crown - Northern Crown

The thunderous doom and smoky atmospheres of Northern Crown’s debut record has returned on their newest, self titled record. ‘Northern Crown’ is out now through their Bandcamp, and it oozes with the early Deep Purple and Black Sabbath influences that pervaded their first record, but engages you on a more visceral level.

Opener ‘I Am Your Slave’ reeks of classic Candlemass; vast thrusting riffs laden with organ and a commanding vocal performance. Vocalist Frank Serafine has a similar voice to Rob Lowe of Solitude Aeternus, and there is a subtle power and magic to it that gives this album a feeling of grandeur. The stomping ‘Merciless, They Let You Suffer’ is a killer track, ripe for any ‘hit songs of 2018’ playlist, with a galloping nature that reminds you of classic rockers like Rainbow. But Northern Crown approach all facets of heavy music with the same magnanimity, paying tributes to prog (‘The Desert and the Wind’), as well as miserable Yorkshire doom (the My Dying Bride cover ‘Your River’) and gloomy, occult and organ laden proto doom (‘Forged from Nothing’)

‘Northern Crown’ is a statement. Northern Crown are a band that are almost chameleonic in their worship and execution of classic doom, when the differences between that, classic rock and classic heavy metal were blurred. Sometimes an album comes along where you struggle to pick the best song. Few albums this year have achieved this so well, and Northern Crown’s journey has only just begun.