A lot has changed since Hour of 13’s last album, 333, came out in 2012. The project is now a one-man affair with bandleader/multi-instrumentalist Chad Davis playing all the parts himself, including vocals with Phil Swanson long out of the picture. That nine-year gap also saw a minor genre tug ‘o’ war take place as singles and EPs were torn between the Traditional Doom of albums past and Samhain-style Deathrock, often determined by whether the 13 was retained as a number or spelled out. With this somewhat convoluted frame in mind, it’s a relief to see the former style win out on their fourth full-length, Black Magick Rites (Shadow Kingdom Records).
Mourn the Light – Suffer, Then We’re Gone
Mourn The Light offers Traditional Doom Metal with a few twists on their first full-length album. It doesn’t quite hit the full operatic scope of Epic Doom or reach the speeds of Classic Metal, but influences from both at work throughout Suffer, Then We’re Gone (Argonauta Records). The riffs and song structures are in line with the busy nature of Psalm 9-era Trouble while the vocals offer a husky but theatrical bellow, drawing further comparisons to groups like Altar Of Oblivion and Argus.Continue reading
While Legacy Of The Anointed (Argonauta Records) may be Spiral Grave’s full-length debut, it’s easy to also think of it as the sixth Iron Man album under a different name. After all, the musicians involved were part of that band’s last active lineup with guitarist Willy Rivera in place of the tragically passed on bandmate, Al Morris III. The style also bares a superficial resemblance to the Doom Metal approach last seen on 2013’s South Of The Earth. However, there’s a distinction between the two entities and Spiral Grave uses that connection as a springboard for their own identity.
In contrast to the darker doom path that Grief Collector established with 2019’s From Dissension To Avowal, their first proper full-length shows more direct connections to singer Robert Lowe’s past projects. ‘Corridors’ opens En Delirium (Petrichor Records) in a similar fashion that ‘Falling’ started off Solitude Aeturnus’s Through The Darkest Hour, featuring a catchy Grunge groove and lofty vocal lines. There are even some Classic Metal touches comparable to the most recent Tyrant album on ‘Our Poisonous Ways’ and ‘The Letting Go.’
With plans to tour with their almost original line up – between the five current members of Candlemass all of them were in the band at some point across the legendary Doom Metal acts first two albums, and all were present and very much correct for 2019’s impressive The Door To Doom (Napalm Records) – on hold, Sweden’s epic morose masters ventured into the world of live lockdown streaming, capturing their 2020 performance from Stockholm’s Studio Gröndahl for release on multiple visual and audio formats under the title of Green Valley Live (Peaceville). Continue reading
Bongzilla’s fifth album comes with an interesting set of curveballs, being their first full-length release since 2005’s Amerijuanican as well as their first to be recorded as a trio. However, very little has changed about the Wisconsinites’ vision in the sixteen years they’ve been away. As evidenced by an appropriately dumb but endearing title like Weedsconsin (Heavy Psych Sounds), the Sweet Leaf remains the focal point of their aesthetic and their Stoner-Sludge sound is as potent as ever.
With 2010s For Mircalla seemingly destined to be a one-off album for Briton Rites, it’s quite a surprise to see the band unleash a second full-length ten years later. Occulte Fantastique (Echoes Of Crom Records) wastes no time confirming that the group has remained faithful to their Traditional Doom Metal style. Guitarist Howie Bentley’s riffs are as beefy as ever while the prolific Phil Swanson’s vocal performance consists of the tried-and-true Satanic themes delivered in a sneer somewhere between Ozzy and Pagan Altar’s Terry Jones.Continue reading
As much as I enjoy Reverend Bizarre and plenty of Sami Hynninen’s other various projects, I’ve honestly not been as enthused about Opium Warlords. Their experimental brand of Drone Doom tends to be rather hit and miss, producing ideas that can be intriguing but more frequently stretched beyond their limits or constructed haphazardly. Their fifth full-length album, Nembutal (Svart Records), doesn’t promise anything different yet I find its execution to be somehow more palatable than anything else they’ve released.
When listening to Forgotten Days (Nuclear Blast), Pallbearer’s fourth full-length, it’s hard to remember a time when they were ever this riff-driven. The title track sets an immediate precedent with its beginning feedback transitioning into pummeling yet catchy verses, a surprisingly hooky chorus, and a softer bridge that manages to keep the momentum going. ‘The Quicksand Of Existing’ and ‘Vengeance Ruination’ serve up even more heaviness in the album’s second half with the former’s straightforward chugs standing out. Considering past jabs I’ve made about Pallbearer being one of the most riff-adverse groups in Doom Metal, it’s a very refreshing change of pace.
While All Is Lost (Grimoire Records) is the second album that Yatra has released in 2020, it is hardly a retread of its predecessor. The extreme elements that were merely blooming on Blood Of The Night are pushed to even further extents this time around. The drums have a much more aggressive presence with several busy fills on display while the fuzzy guitar and bass tones are much fuller. It never goes into full Blackened territory, but the more active Stoner-Sludge approach makes their High On Fire influence even more apparent.Continue reading