Alms – Act One

The state of Maryland has a truly grand Doom legacy, and new quartet Alms aim to carry that on. Described by some as purveyors of a Funeral brand, the Baltimore outfit’s roots and product lean more towards seventies Occult Rock, despite the slow speed of some tracks.

Opener ‘Dead Water’ is the issue of a Metal Madrigal: the riff-heavy and scented, the leadwork and organ possess the melody of middle ages balladry while Jess Kamen powers a low intonation through to a swelling, fearsome coda. ‘The Toll’ is another slow-burner, guitarist Bob Sweeney getting more of the vocal duties, yet the track possesses a speedier and highly rhythmic chorus. The harmonies of Kamen and Sweeney are both sinister and magical, while the switches of pace are both enlivening and expertly dictated.

‘For Shame’ is carried by something of an Americana train, both vocalists taking the duties and giving the whole a feel of a doomy Jefferson Airplane. The earthy, electrifying solo work and the warmth of the dated production give the track the appropriate crackle of hell.

‘The Offering’, the second of two tracks from their self-titled and self-released EP, sees a return from Kamen’s organ pipes which gives a real lumbering stomper a Proto-metal flavour, her solo giving air to the rampant riff and rhythm bluster of the final third, again graced by wonderful dual solos.

There’s a similar template for the ensuing ‘Deuces Low’ but this time with a fiery pace, some manic keyboard riffs driven by Derrick Hans’ blistering stickwork and Andrew Harris’ rumbling bass: whilst closer ‘Hollowed’ is a suitable finale, with Kamen’s morose, poignant keys breaking into a heavy rock ‘n’ roller. While there’s nothing new about Alms’ sound, the dazzling keys and lead breaks, together with those urgent tempo-switching rhythms, provide a fresh outlook on the genre and should serve as a wake-up call to the likes of Electric Citizen.

Act One shows serious promise and whets the appetite for the newcomers’ next instalment.