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.’
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.
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
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.
As hinted by the title, Doom II (Self-Released) isn’t Witnesses’ second overall album but rather their second to expand on the Doom Metal style that was established on 2019’s To Disappear And To Be Nothing. Its predecessor’s combination of glacial riffing, distraught vocals and bleak mood is well-preserved here and the overarching narrative of a ship lost at sea allows them to be conveyed even more powerfully than before. Convoluted naming conventions aside, it’s a bold leap forward by every metric.
It’s been just a little over a year since Purification unleashed their first album, Destruction Of The Wicked, but their second already comes with some interesting developments. The style on Perfect Doctrine (ODLC PRODUCTIONS, INC.) may be rooted in the same post-Reverend Bizarre Doom Metal, but the Portlandians’ dynamic has dramatically shifted. The recruitment of drummer Count Darragh has led to them growing from a duo to a more conventional trio, allowing Lord Donangato Resurrected to focus on lead guitar alongside William Marshall Purify’s established rhythms and warbling vocals.
Ask a proud American to identify the EoB and they’ll gaze, either wistfully or with revolution in mind, toward a grand old building not far from Pennsylvania Avenue. 2018, however, has given birth to another EoB – the Evolution of Boom, a kind of cultural reworking of the Low-End chords which brought all manner of sounds into the realm of enjoyment for the average music listener.Continue reading