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.’
Tyrant’s long-awaited fourth album, Hereafter (ShadowKingdom Records), has come out under some rather interesting circumstances. In addition to serving as the Pasadena veterans’ first full-length since 1996’s King of Kings, Hereafter sees journeyman vocalist Robert Lowe at the helm in place of Glen May. The prospects of this collaboration are certainly intriguing, especially as a fan of Lowe’s work with Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass. I wouldn’t go so far as to think of it as Tyrant gone doom, but it approaches their established sound from a noticeably different angle.
In a sense, this review finds itself in an onerous position. Recorded in the wake of Finnish singer Aleah Stanbridge’s death, its subject marks the return to the music of her partner, Juha Raivio, and his Epic Goth Metal band, Swallow The Sun. In fact, the press release goes so far as to describe the new album, When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light (Century Media), as being “fuelled by personal loss and powered by the will to continue.”Continue reading
Sub-genre labels are always more fluid than some people would have you believe, but alongside Industrial and Goth (whatever the hell they are), Doom is probably the most easily abused – depending on the context, it can mean anything from “catchy skater-rock with fuzzy guitars and big choruses” to “eleven hours of excruciating feedback and despair”. Revived for the first time since Johnny Hagel left them to join Tiamat in 1992, Sorcerer take Doom all the way back to its roots in Candlemass and Solitude Aeternus – huge, epic, fantasy-themed True Heavy Metal built on monumental riffs and soaring vocals.
Which is not to say that In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross (Metal Blade) is just empty nostalgia or “retro” posturing. A strong production that combines “modern” clarity with just enough grime to keep it sounding interesting highlights the strengths of what is, at its core, a strong set of catchy, engaging Heavy Metal songs. As you’d expect, the principal ingredient here is The Riff – grandiose, pompous and majestic – but Anders Engberg’s chest-bursting vocals ensure that the choruses will be stuck in your mind for days afterwards. There’s a groove to those riffs, too, but not the rambling beardy swing of “stoner” Doom – this is defiantly Metal, and those grooves stamp and crush without the slightest sense of irony or restraint.
There’s a tendency amongst reviewers (especially those of us raised on the golden age of Nick Terry’s reign at Terrorizer) to feel that we have to apologise for praising an album that isn’t in some way “different” or “special” – that giving high marks to something which is simply an excellent collection of songs within a clearly defined Heavy Metal sub-genre requires a justification – but I’m not going to play that game this time. In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross is a fantastic Doom-laden Heavy Metal album, and should be recommended unreservedly for anyone with a love for that style.