Tommy Stewart, lynchpin of Doom outfits Hallows Eve, Bludy Gyres and Dyrewulf, is not a man to allow moss to sprout betwixt his tootsies. After last year’s mammoth Bludy Gyres contribution to Rope Enough For Two (Black Doomba Records), their split with Dayglo Mourning, comes Negative Wall: a new project formed with long-time cohort Dennis Reid and guitarist Don Cole. Continue reading
UK Doom outfit Electric Wizard are rightly held in high regard. One of the few bands to proudly wear the influence of Black Sabbath long before it became cool again, Jus Oborn & co. were making dirty, but earth-rattling Doom like no one else at the time. These days, there’s no shortage of bands aping the band’s classic material. But based on the evidence of new album Wizard Bloody Wizard (Spinefarm), the imposters probably do it better than Electric Wizard themselves these days. Continue reading
Still They Pray (Relapse Records) is the first long-player in six years from legendary Virginian Doom quartet Cough, with a couple of later ‘splits’ the only things preventing their status from slipping into the mythical. Thankfully this time lapse hasn’t seen the band’s power or collective ability diminish.
Album opener ‘Haunter of the Dark’ exudes the heavy, Occult feel of their one-time ‘split’ mates The Wounded Kings: riffs and leadplay evoking the bone-crumbling mysticism of George Birch and Steve Mills. This is allied to the fuzzed sound and laconic, harrowing vocal of Electric Wizard, which is apt given that Jus Osborn handles production here. Follow-up ‘Possession’, however, and wonderful album highlight ‘The Wounding Hours’ with its haunting keys, both take on a new resonance: obsidian screams leading a slower trawl through infested swamps, resulting in the more familiar funereal pace. The standout feature here and in the crawling, sinister warmth of ‘Dead Among the Roses’ is some mournful, stirring leadwork, squealing and moaning through an oppressive riff and pummeling rhythm section like a speared anaconda.
This is, of course, the mark of this lumbering leviathan: it’s a sound you’ve heard before but, as with TWK, Cough adds a variety and subtlety which supposedly more influential contemporaries seem loath to display. The sheer evil of ‘Masters of Torture’s Blackened Sludge vocal heightens both the intensity and the omen: while wailing solos add morose emotion to a creeping, hideous body, suddenly enlivened by a rumbling, Dorrian-esque groove. The beautiful, leaden balladry of ‘Let it Bleed’, meanwhile, is graced by a Hippy drawl which still manages to carry a certain malevolence; as does the monstrous instrumental ‘Shadow of the Torturer’, Parker Chandler’s basslines plumbing the Pacific depths whilst seedy, seductive leads screech and oscillate, easing Joseph Arcaro’s lazy yet powerful drums to a crushing main section.
It’s a sound undeniably British, whilst reminiscent of Chandler’s work with Windhand and, as evinced in the acoustic-led closing title track, a late 60s Haight-Ashbury Americana. With such obliterating Doom spirited by the fire, despair and hate of the 21st century, Cough has never sounded so vital.
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For all the crushing, Iommi-like riffs, occasionally rampaging pace, and seemingly universal homage, the trouble with No Light, Only Fire (Candlelight Records), the third album from Hampshire heavyweights Witchsorrow, is the lack of both atmosphere and identity. Often prosaic structures negate the undeniable power and weight of the tracks and although the sinister crawl of ‘The Martyr’ and ‘Negative Utopia’ has the sinister feel of pure Electric Wizard-esque horror about it, the sound is too often uninspired and subsequently robbed of some of the punishing might one expects.
Nick ‘Necroskull’ Ruskell is at times a vocal ringer for Jus Oborn, and similarly tries to project his well-known despair and loathing for modern life through his medium. Despite an oft decent, sonorous roar, sadly his gravelled emanations are somewhat limited in range and depth: the epic ‘…Utopia’ sees a titanic performance from the rhythm section, its supremely squalling leads also deserving of a better vocal performance than the stunted bellow in evidence. As is the filthy, horrific crawl of the standout ‘Disaster Reality’ and the primitive rumble of ‘To the Gallows’.
It’s not impossible to fathom the album’s many plaudits. There’s a largely fiery nature to the music: the blend of devilish Doom and NWOBHM patterns grooving into the mind, the almost psychedelic riffs of ‘Made of the Void’ creating a warm cocoon from the evil intent outside, while Necroskull’s solo work is staggering throughout. His earthshaking riffs are also very reminiscent of the Wizard, and maybe this is part of the problem.
There’s a glut of wonderful, imaginative Low-end stuff out there right now…and even more copycat-style, slightly above average thundering. There is a real beastliness to much of this album, perfectly embodied by epic closer ‘De Mysteriis Doom Sabbathas’: a slow, prime slice of Sabbath at their finest with some incredible leadwork. This monstrous power may ensure that the album grows more attractive after repeated listens but the heavily derivative sound, together with Ruskell’s vocal limitations, sees it fall short of the lofty expectations created by the panegyric heaped upon Witchsorrow’s very name over the last couple of years.