Tag Archives: Doom Metal

Doom:VS – Earthless

Doom:Vs - Earthless

After almost 6 years Doom:VS is finally back with a new album, “Earthless”. “Earthless” is the third full length from this side project of Draconian guitarist Johan Ericson and was released this past May by the Russian Doom label Solitude Productions.  On previous releases Ericson took on all of the vocal duties himself – and did a really nice job of it. This time around however, he has enlisted the help of Saturnus vocalist, Thomas A.G. Jensen who brings his trademark deep, guttural growls and soft spoken words. Jenson’s vocals bring a strong Saturnus feel to the music which blends with uncanny ease into the Doom:VS, Draconian style. Although Jenson’s vocals are very strong and his spoken words add a new element to the music, I’m a bit disappointed that Ericson has chosen to leave out a lot of the clean vocals that made the previous album “Dead Words Speak” so great. This is not to say he has forgotten about them entirely. They do find their way into the last two songs “Oceans of Despair” and “The Slow Decent”. In any case Jenson’s thunderous growls have a way of sending chills through your spine and his spoken word is as strong and sorrowful as ever which more than makes up for the lack of clean singing.

There’s no arguing the fact that “Earthless” is a very solid, doom metal release. In fact it’s one of the best extreme doom releases this year in my opinion. It can be however, slightly predictable. Sometimes though predictability is a welcome thing. Sometimes it’s nice to throw on an album knowing full well that you will find quality song writing, strong production and you can sit back and relax, loosing yourself in the familiar, welcoming feel of the music. I’ve always been fond of the guitar tones Ericson uses. They are unique and recognizable. There’s feeling in the slow, dark riffs and sweeping harmonies of the leads which create a very melancholic yet familiar atmosphere. With Doom:VS this sound is a bit more raw and organic than with Draconian or Saturnus.

As with all Doom:VS releases the music is slow death/doom and does not quite reach funeral doom territory. There are six tracks on the album with the shortest being just under 7 1/2 minutes. The songs flow very well from the opening song “Earthless” to the very last note of “The Slow Ascent”. I can’t say there are any weak moments. Every song is strong and well thought out.  The whole album is just over 50 minutes long but it flows through quicker than you might expect. A sign of a good album and not something a lot of bands in this genre can accomplish.

No matter which way you cut it, “Earthless” is a must listen for any fan of death/doom or even funeral doom. It continues down the tried, tested and true path set by the project’s earlier releases so if you’re expecting ground breaking innovation you will be slightly disappointed. If you just want some very strong, melancholic doom then this album will fulfill all of your expectations and more.

Doom:VS is:
Johan Ericson (All instruments)
Guest vocals performed by Thomas AG Jenson (Saturnus)

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Hagstone – Ancient, Majestic

Hagstone - Ancient, Majestic

The story of Hagstone begins in 2009 as four men sat in a “boozer” in the north of London. On that fateful night the guys gave themselves unto the God of Doom and set forth determined to create heavy, riff driven music. The result of their efforts is their debut EP “Ancient, Majestic”.

As you may have gathered from the title and perhaps the cover artwork, “Ancient, Majestic” is heavily influenced by ancient, mythological stories and legends. It also borrows from some darker concepts inspired by writers such as Poe, Byron, Coleridge, Shelly and Lovecraft. Hagstone combines elements of stoner rock with some of the more down tempo elements of traditional doom. I’d go so far as to suggest that Hagstone leans more towards the traditional doom metal side. The clean, quivering sound of the vocals really gives the music a classic doom kind of a feel. Hagstone does lack some of that oh so precious dirty fuzz of other stoner branded acts opting instead for a slightly cleaner, overdriven sound. That being said it can still be heavy at times. There’s a bit of an 80’s metal vibe that shines through like on the track “Not a Dream”. Something that might just be amplified by the sound of the vocals. It may be appealing to some but if I’m being completely honest it is a bit of a buzz kill for me. It’s not that it is necessarily a bad thing, it just doesn’t quite fit in with my own personal tastes. All of this together gives “Ancient, Majestic” a somewhat classic era doom metal vibe.

The first song “Nowhere Child” is one of stronger tracks featured on “Ancient, Majestic”. The opening riff is by far the best riff on the EP bringing visions of tripping on peyote as desert sands swirl and tumble weed bounces beneath a blistering sun. It immediately sets the head in motion without so much as a second thought. The song looses some of its muster midway through as it turns into an 80’s ballad but regains strength as it builds back up, returning to the desert rock groove of the opening riff. “Like a Rat” showcases more of the traditional doom aspect of Hagstone’s sound with chunky, palm muted riffs. “A Moment of Clarity” is a cool little instrumental track that lives up to its name acting as a quick break before the final two tracks. As I mentioned already “Not a Dream” has a bit of that classic 80’s vibe I’m not so keen on but “Burn Me Blind” might just be my favourite track. There’s nothing overly special about it, it’s just heavy and catchy as shit.

Overall Hagstone have put forth a strong debut offering. The production is solid, the music is tight and for the most part the songs are all different and memorable. It is music that you can re-listen too without any hesitation.

Hagstone are:
Andy (Bass), Istvan (Drums), Deko (Guitars), Rob (Guitars), Gio (Vocals)

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Weed Priest – Weed Priest

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Weed Priest is the debut album of the Galway based Occult, Stoner, Doom metal group of the same name. ‘Final Spell’ kicks things off with a haunting opening that leads into an intense deep bass line that runs through the entire track and is complemented by Adam De Monlung’s snarling vocals. ‘Erichtho’ follows with a head bumping drum beat and builds into a slow paced aggressive number with plenty of deep drums and guitar riffs. ‘Walpurgia’ is a slower more deliberately paced number laced with anger and metal anthem riffs and has a deep oppressive sound that works well with the track. ‘Thy Kingdom Gone’ has an awesome opening beat that carries on through giving it a metal anthem vibe thats infinitely replayable. ‘Weed Priest’ has a slow drone/dirge style punctuated with brief moments of shredding but for the most part has the slow deliberate and angry style that’s prevalent in this album but does have an impressive final few minutes. ‘Day of Reckoning’ is the final track on the Album and opens with the sound of air raid sirens that leads to an overwhelming rhythm that’s dripping with anger and rage. Weed Priest is an impressive debut feature from the Galway boys and is an encouraging sign of things to come both from the group and from Doom metal’s new blood in general. Well worth tracking down!

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Weed Priest is:
Adrian Elatha (Drums), Ragas Walpurgis (Bass), Adam De Monlung (Guitars/Vox).


Maudlin – A Sign of Time

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A Sign of Time is the third album from Maudlin. The group were formed in 2004. First thing that you notice is the Psychedelic and dreamlike feel to the music evident in “Hours”.  A moody opening piece to “She Whispers Treason” that features deep pulsing bass. One of the bands’ influences is Pink Floyd and its felt in this track. “Lilith” follows on the heels with a slower more morose sound emphasising their doom metal inspiration (Type O Negative). “A Perfect Sky of Black” features a snarling bass line that drives the song which sounds similar to the works of Mastodon. “Become Minutes” is a relaxed intermission that’s completely instrumental tand that jumps into “Ride the Second Wave” which has a steady aggressive streak and a low thumping bass. “Goddess of the Flame” is the second longest track after “A Perfect Sky of Black” clocking in at eight minutes and has an angry resentful sound to it that compliments its slow methodical approach. “Chasing Shades” is the penultimate track and has a depressive/hopeless theme. Again the similarities to Mastodon are apparent but they have their own unique approach which keeps their music sounding fresh. It also features a drone like final minute that reinforces the dejected theme of the song. “Turn to Seconds” finishes the album with the sound of heavy rain hammering home the bleak nature of what came before it. Anyone expecting a “Reign in Blood” style number may be disappointed with that. All in all A Sign of Time is an ambitious album marrying some distinct musical styles together to create something hugely impressive and more importantly something individual to most other acts out there. Fine stuff.

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Maudlin are:

Jasper Bullynck (Guitar & Vocals), Kris Vannecke (Guitar & Vocals), Yannick Dumarey (Bass), Davy Vandenbroecke (Drums), Davy De Schrooder (Vocals & Samples)


Altaar – Altaar

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Norwegian quintet Altaar has just recently unleashed their first full-length album via Indie Recordings, four years after debut EP Dødsønske. First of all the main thing you’ll need to know about this album is that there are two songs. However both songs together last a monstrous thirty four minutes almost as long as most ten track albums. Things begin with “Tidi Kjem Aldri Att” a long slow Dirge with deep bass and snarling guitars, the song has a distinct sound that’s similar to Mastodon in its delivery and is entirely instrumental throughout its mammoth twenty minute or so runtime. The guitars have a distinctive twang to them that puts you in mind of the music often found in westerns, it’s bleak, methodical and aggressive but not a quick aggression like Slayer or Slipknot where the guitars and drums beat you down almost instantly. Altaar takes their time and it’s brilliant due to this approach. Following this is “Dei Absolutte Krav Og Den Absolutte Nåde” a little shorter at fourteen minutes. It sounds more industrial and features Andreas Tyldens anguished vocals and relies on the growling guitars and bass. The band go for a mixture of black, drone and doom metal on this album and end up with something decidedly unique and unlike anything else currently available. Altaar has been steadily gaining momentum – and fans – thanks to their live shows. And with this album it seems that, for once the hype has been justified. An excellent album.

Altaar is:

Andreas Tylden (Guitar, Vocals), Sten Ove Toft (Electronics, Guitar, Piano), Espen T. Hangård (Guitar, Synth, Vocals), Didrik Telle (Bass), Kenneth Lamond (Drums).

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Interview – Ade Mulgrew – Darkest Era

Ade Mulgrew

I caught up with Darkest Era guitarist Ade Mulgrew recently about his views on illegal file sharing, video promotion and tea breaks!

Gerry:
Is there a message that you want to get across in your music?

Ade:
Not one specific message, no. Each song has a different subject matter, telling one particular story or exploring one particular idea in each. There is no ideology being preached through our music; it is simply an expression of one thing or another.

Gerry:
When did you know you wanted to play music?

Ade:
Since my mid-teens really, like most people. I started getting into 80’s rock bands like Guns n Roses. The Use Your Illusion live videos blew me away and I started to listen to more and more rock and metal. Once I got into Iron Maiden, I knew I wanted to be in a band.

Gerry:
Twenty years ago bands and fans would swap cassette tapes to promote and share music. In this current climate, where do you stand on mp3 sharing?

Ade:
The effect on bands and the music industry is definitely a shame, in terms of the loss of income to bands and the devaluing of the physical product. At the same time you can’t really stop technological progress, and mp3s enable people to share more music faster than ever before, which in itself is a good thing.

The industry has been too slow to react, to adapt to changes and find the best way to monetize this. Until this happens I think bands are going to continue to suffer. It’s good in a way that anyone can get an album online now without a label or distribution, but there is this idea in society now that all music should be free, yet bands still have to pay for their studio time, equipment, etc.. it’s hard to see where stability will come from unfortunately.

Darkest Era

Gerry:
How do you feel about the use of video to promote the band?

Ade:
It’s been a great promotional tool since it was invented really. I’m surprised more underground metal bands don’t invest in making music videos actually. It’s generally way down the list of priorities and I’m not sure why.

Gerry:
What was the biggest challenge on this record?

Ade:
It was our first full length album so I guess just stepping up to that level and adapting was a challenge in itself. We’ve had a lot more time in previous recordings but for this we had 14 days in which it had to be done, so there was added pressure there.

Gerry:
How would you describe the new album to someone who has not listened to you before?

Ade:
Eight tracks of epic, stormy, celtic heavy metal. Iron Maiden meets Bathory meets Thin Lizzy meets folk.

Gerry:
What was the first concert you attended and how did you feel about it?

Ade:
Iron Maiden on their Dance of Death world tour. Confirmation that I definitely wanted to be in a metal band. Other than that, I’d only been to small shows with local bands, which were inspiring too in their own way.

Gerry:
Most memorable gig?

Ade:
Ulver and Fields of the Nephilim at Hellfest.

Gerry:
Hit shuffle on your iPod and name the first 3 songs that come up, no cheating!

Ade:
Bathory – The Lake
Dead Can Dance – I am stretched on your grave
Depeche Mode – Stripped

Gerry:
What is the band’s greatest weakness?

Ade:
Tea breaks

The Last Caress of Light is available now via Metal Blade