Category Archives: Doom Metal

Queen Elephantine – Scarab

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On “Scarab”, Queen Elephantine commence with quiet precussion, taking their time – moving with patience. Then menacing and dirty, join the bass and guitar, speaking wordlessly of endless despair, while band member Srinivas Reddy gives those a calm yet eerie background ambience using his tanpura(Indian instrument).

In this way the band creates an echo unique to them using only a few instruments. But even more interesting than this reverberating presence is their choice to musically, not “move” much. Instead of reaching for change, they dwell in the shadow they’ve created, looking for something, looking for nothing. Going out of hiding here and there, looking out and seeing reflecting and contrasting elements in the distance. But always returning, remaining in this dark place, in the back of your head, in a place with no light. And embracing what that means. How does that feel? Meditative? dark? sad? Listen below and you’ll have your answer.

The singing on “Veil“, which I almost forgot about since its very sparse, arrives sooner on track two, “Crone“. The praying-like wailing voices plays a role on the album, but the lyrics’ meaning elude me for the most part. One thing can be certain – they carry a certain mournfulness about them as the rest of “Scarab“, sounding like some abstract, associative eulogy. Clocking at 18 minutes, this second piece’s repetitive nature slowly turns from calming to torturous over time, making it very hard not to lose one’s mind – especially with the constantly present buzz of the indian instrument.

Track three, “Snake“, resembles doom metal the most so far in this experimental soundscape. Music-wise it is still unchanging and minimal, so dragging that it feels like time itself is being slowed down. Pretty mental stuff. Looking at the lyrics, these might confirm my guess at the textual concept. Here they are together with my interpretation:

Arms yearning, am I home again (yearning for home – to reach death\god)
Why lie on, won’t you make it out (“make it out” = make the soul exit the body)
And the saints have been here 
But in bliss and not in shame 
Bathed in wine, and not in sand 
Glimmering, glistening, suffering  (describing some kind of a funeral rite)

Simmering, glistening, suffering 
Dirt in my throat  (being buried, covered in earth..)
Drowned in my own (buried near his own – his own people – in a graveyard)
Drawn like a snake  (the dead body being dragged into the grave)
I will swallow it, swallow it (being covered in earth)
I am home again (…)

Scarab” is far, far from being a downright metal record, but is however beyond heavy in the context of its own atmosphere. Plodding, yes, it trudges on endlessly – which some will find tiring, but others might enjoy, and even – ‘not joking – worship, in a sort of cult-following manner. ‘Cause this is some dark art right here. 7/10

You can find the album and purchase it at:
http://queenelephantine.bandcamp.com/album/scarab

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Blood Ceremony – Living With The Ancients

Today’s review is about a very special 2011 album titled “Living With The Ancients“, by the band Blood Ceremony. Reviewing this release almost calls for a necessary mention of Black Sabbath, since it is quite the doomer. But while Sabbath’s recent new effort “13” gives you more or less what you expect, Blood Ceremony’s music exceeds all expectations; The band doesn’t merely takes inspiration from past groups but bring their own refreshing musicianship to the table, creating what almost seems like their own “Blood Ceremony” subgenre, akin to what Cradle of Filth did in the 90’s when they merged gothic and black metal elements together into new nocturnal soundscapes.

The style of Blood Ceremony can be described as bridging the folkish Jethro Tull with heavy metal\doom rock, channelling a type of renaissance imagery and sound of occult melancholy – not one that summons fear, instead enchanting you like a lover whispering in the darkness. It speaks of old magic and ancient gods, not from the perspective of a believer distanced from his monotheistic god, but from that of a participant in pagan belief and worship; A witch, a magician, a “daughter of the sun“, her voice filled with soulful intent.

Straight from the onset with “The Great God Pan“, when the instrumental section kicks in, you know you are in for a classic – the keys, the solos..though follower “Coven Tree” is an even stronger track, vocalist Alia O’Brien’s flute playing shining flawlessly through them like a second singer. It paints everything with a bright color you cannot take your eyes off, and inspired you feel your heart rising in your chest.

The heavy gloom returns with “My Demon Brother“, its simple repeating verse-chorus formula being the most radio friendly tune on “Living With The Ancients“. I love how Blood Ceremony let each song go its way; Some are short like that, easy-going & riff oriented; some focus more on the narrative(“Morning of the Magicians”), while others allow vast space and time for the guitar parts, solos and eerie organ work to reach their full potential. And in those prized long moments of climatic conclusion, you can see the band really go all out, the magic of improvisation happening right in front of you, similar to the experience of a live concert.

Demonstrating this lengthy free-spirited approach most perfectly is the best song on the album, “Daughter Of The Sun“:

Though at times ambitious in length, “Living With The Ancients” is actually quite an easy listen that never burderns the ears, also containing wonderful breaks in between songs such as “The Hermit“. The only possible downside to this release might be O’Brien’s voice, which isn’t as strong as her flute playing. However, once you give the intriguing lyrics a chance, you come to appreciate her vocal presence much more.

This review might not be the best I’ve written, but “Living With The Ancients” might very well be the best album I have reviewed on this website. I don’t know if it’s a 10 out of 10 perfect effort, but it achieves at least one quality that marks a classic album; Being of timeless quality that will always remain relevant, ten, twenty and a hundred years from now – never to erode, never to lessen. And creating something like that – that kind of feat – is one bands rarely get to accomplish. Well done, Blood Ceremony.

Resonaut – Sky Burial(2013)

Bury yourself in the sky and “replace the suffering with peace” with Resonaut‘s doomy, droning 70’s rock\metal stripped of modern sensibilities. This is oldschool worship brought into new bleak light, similar in style to the work of High Priest of Saturn. Records of this genre tend to have intentional repetition and a similar tone all throughout but in the case of 2013’s “Sky Burial” this issue is non-existing since we are talking about a 2 tracks only ride. So basically, you have no excuse not to listen to this EP !

The strength of this sabbath-ish inspired music seems to always be that recognizable contrast between brooding guitars and the human voice, simple as that, with an approach of “less is more”. A pretty minimalistic concept that gives the vocals huge importance, and luckily, Resonaut‘s singer does a great job on the title track, with vocals that are clean but a little hoarse, in the right amount.

The second and last track is  “Tower of Silence“. Again, good riffs filled with an air of old times. The lyrics are quite interesting and have to do with esoteric religions, making the whole atmosphere fit very well with this album’s beautiful artwork(see below). Mid-song, the listened is given some long moments of tranquility, as the band prepares a buildup leading to a real “classic” heavy metal ending. This is how you close an album.

Sky Burial” is solid all throughout its 18 minutes, and is recommended for fans of Stoner\70’s rock. On a personal note – I’m damn glad to see this type of music is still been created.

the album’s artwork

Horn of The Rhino – Grengus

At first listen, “Grengus“(2012) sounds like the embodiment of human anger in the form of metal music. It’s sludgy, gutsy and roaring with an almost animalistic quality; but the violence isn’t without emotion. It’s not a perfect album, we’re not talking about reinventing the riff here, but it is a record Horn of The Rhino can be proud of. Read on to find out why, and prepare yourself for some ass-kicking rhinoceros metal!

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Since every other metalhead is a guitar freak, we often expect bands to always come up with heavier\crazier guitar work, which can be seriously futile. What I like about guys like Horn of The Rhino or Conan is how they just purely do their own thing, don’t care about the competition, pretty much giving the whole guitar competition thing the bird. You can right away tell this is these guys’ attitude, and as risky and imperfect going in that direction always is, it seems to work on “Grengus“.

The album opens up with “Under The Hoof“, its intro assaulting you with the band’s brand of what they label as “Doom Thrash”. A pretty sick opener, you will headbang this one, no doubt about it. Next, “A Pile of Severed Heads” shows the guys shift gears and adding some punk rhythms and vocals that’ll remind you of Motorhead. Things take on a quite surprising shade of heavy on tracks “Grengus” and “Drowned on Gold“, with clean vocals arriving to share stage with the harsh ones, achieving a certain unmistakable – who would’ve guessed -grung-y tone.

While these two tracks seem a bit unfocused and plodding, Horn of The Rhino return to their initial intelligent synocaption and primal heaviness on “Waste for Ghouls” and “Awaken Horror of Tuul“. My favorite track here, though,  is “Brought Back“, where the guys find the courage to explore the grungy vibe they previously introduced, resulting in eleven inspiring minutes:

The album is at an end, but not before fully immersing us in aggression one final time, on “To Ride The Leviathan“. Seems like this release is really the shape-shifter, changing a bit with every track. Having previously listened to the tracklist in the wrong order(!), I’ve now amended my mistake and can say I better understand, and appreciate the balanced dynamic flow of “Grengus“(though this, ironically, has messed up the review a bit, haha!). However, I still think the ride has been a bit flawed, with at least a quarter of the songs feeling too droney and monotone, for my taste at least!

On the upside, “Brought Back” certainly brought back from the dead something nostalgic and refreshing. So much current music pales in comparison to this song – it has incredible replay value, and is perhaps the main reason I’m giving this album a respectable score of 7/10.

If you enjoyed the music, follow Horn of The Rhino on Facebook

Conan – Monnos

Matt Thomas - http://mattthomas.co.uk
Conan
‘s guitars are thick and encompassing like the sound of thunder, descending down on you with such gravity that once drawn in, you cannot simply back away. The riffs echo, brood and drone with an electric aura and rhythm that channel not merely a dark human emotion but a deeper primal force. Simply put, “Monnos” is fuckin’ monstrous!

Being quite repetitive, the tracks on this 2012 album are not about memorable choruses or melodies, but have to do with creating a certain sonic theme whose success depends on the group’s intent rather than technical ability. This may seem obvious to some but when dealing with such obscure song structures, this intent and its integrity have more creative weight than usual; in fact they are the track itself! – as can be heard on this effort’s excellent opener – “Hawk as Weapon“. That guitar riff may be 4 notes repeating this way or that, but don’t these ring true and powerful?.. point proven!

Drowning in this vast hypnotic listening experience you occasionally hear a voice shouting as if from far away; such refreshing and hard-to-define vocals these are, half singing half chanting their enigmatic messages. While “Hawk as Weapon” was a slow plodding beatdown, the pace takes faster tempos on next tracks “Battle in The Swamp” and “Grim Tormentor“. Avoiding having tracks that are too similar is achieved with the pacifying “Golden Axe“. Taking a break from Conan‘s usual destruction, this instrumental feels like a post-war wordless hymn.

The heaviness and eerie vocals largely return on “headless hunter“, though the drummer seems to take a less straight forward approach on this one, jamming freely between the chords and giving the song a less plodding and more flexible feel. Following a sinister outro, Conan end things as doom-ishly as they possibly can with “Invincible Throne“, a buzzing wall of sound trudging forward with giant’s footsteps. This is a monster of an album indeed.

7.5/10

If you enjoyed the music, follow the band on Facebook