John The Baptist – John The Baptist (1/3)
Following in the footsteps of their fellow Finns in Reverend Bizarre, John The Baptist’s self-titled debut pushes Doom Metal to its most excruciating limits. Befitting the incredibly drawn-out track lengths and overall runtime, the tempos crawl at an agonizingly glacial pace with the climactic speedups coming up as long overdue rarities. The production is raw without getting too lo-fi as the guitars and bass sit in near equal prominence while the vocals aim for an unhinged, operatic character. It’s decently made but also seems designed to have next to no appeal beyond the deepest of niches.
6 / 10
Conviction – Conviction (1/22)
Having initially established themselves with a 2013 demo, the first full-length from France’s Conviction (Argonauta Records) has a melancholic style largely informed by Saint Vitus and early Cathedral. Further comparisons could be made to Apostle Of Solitude and Spirit Adrift with their slothlike tempos, rigid riffs, and mournful vocals. I must admit that the production can get rather muffled with the vocals occasionally getting buried in the mix, but this also ends up suiting the bleak mood. ‘Voices Of The Dead’ is an effective opener, ‘Curse Of The Witch’ and ‘Castles Made Of Shame’ have more forward chugs, and the vocal layers on ‘Outworn’ are pretty cool. It would’ve scored higher with some extra polish, but this is still worth checking out.
Phantom Druid – Stages of Twilight (2/18)
As with 2020’s Death And Destiny,Phantom Druid’s second full-length album displays strict adherence to old school Traditional Doom with a pulverizing guitar tone, lumbering drums, and vocals consisting of macabre moans. This simple formula was fun on that effort but Stages Of Twilight (Off The Record Label) shows all the signs of a one trick pony with little evolution since the last album and no variation between songs. Fortunately, the riff construction has enough ear candy for genre diehards to latch onto with occasional synth patches and leads providing some neat extra layers. It’s a much more manageable listen than John The Baptist’s offering but would similarly benefit from a little more diversity.
6 / 10