Spirit Adrift – Chained to Oblivion

Fantastic doom metal, held back only by it’s lack of “off button”. It basically is full throttle, tear jerking emotions the entire record, which yes, the vocals especially are soulful as all hell, but for it’s length especially it wears on you a bit. The songs sound pretty similar as well. Still awesome for what it is, haven’t heard a great trad doom record this year until now.


Convulse – Cycle of Revenge

You ever have an album that you really like, but then see that other people don’t like it and you’re like “shit maybe I’m listening to this wrong”? But then you listen again, and like you still like it, but you see where other people are coming from. But at the same time you’re not sure if agree or disagree with what everyone else is saying, so you’re in that middle spot where you want to hang on to your original opinion but at the same time not really. That’s where I am here. I could give this anywhere from a 5 to an 8 and it would make perfect sense. There’s some great technical and melodic passages, combined with some pretty cool use of tribal drumming, some interesting traditional doom elements, and all around lots of good music. But the vocals are like if they tried to pick the least fitting vocals that would still sound like shit even if they were fitting possible. I mean I’m exaggerating a little bit, but they go way low into the register for music that isn’t really guttural at all. And there’s just so much going on here, it’s like in high school biology where you find some pond scum and put it under a microscope. You see all these really cool things that are awesome but also kinda gross and creepy at the same time. As I’m about to finish this review I still haven’t given an idea of what score to give this. Imma give it a 6.75 because uh, fuck that sounds ok I guess.


Blood Ceremony – Lord of Misrule

This is the ultimate album for people who think that as long as you don’t do anything drastically awful, if you put in some kooky instrumentation, you’ll make a great album. Because that’s fucking wrong. What we get here is a completely droll snoozefest that tries to make up for that fact by shoving flutes up our eardrums. And not metaphorically, listening to this actually feels like someone is shoving a flute in my ear, but in a way where they’re trying to be soothing somehow. Like the metal is poking my brain tissue, and they’re all relaxed and going “dude what’s your issue, this is a special medicinal technique the Iroquois used. It’s from the earth man”. But by the time the album is done, I’m dead from internal bleeding and they are get arrested and and charged for first degree murder. I guess I win in a spiritual sense, but it’s not worth dying for.


Däng – Mönstrum Ex Machina ALBUM REVIEW

Man I actually can’t remember the last time I reviewed a trad doom album in one of these lists, if I’ve ever done that. It’s nice to hear, I’ve always liked trad doom, even though it’s a relatively dead genre now. And it’s especially good when a band not only plays a lesser known genre, but plays it damn well. Or should I say, “Däng” well. Däng produces a fantastic trad doom epic about the greek monsters of the underworld. The vocals are top notch, giving a more laid back aspect to the music to contrast the heavy tone of the guitars. The guitars synchronize perfectly with the production to create a wonderful atmosphere that’s simultaneously deep and heavy, but relaxed and a bit lazy. The whole album is very subdued while still maintaining a form of epicness. Every time I hear the vocalist sing about the fact that the Hydra’s gon getcha, I feel like while it is a bit cheesy, I can’t help but smile and feel happy that it’s happening. Mönstrum Ex Machina gives a fantastically somber, yet appropriately silly experience that I don’t think I’ve heard before.

And it’s not just the atmosphere. While the elements of ambient sections and story building mini skits help build the ambiance of the album, the actual guitar playing is no slouch either. The soloing is absolutely on point, being of the technical, yet not really shredding variety. It’s very reminiscent of old 70s rock soloing, bringing a sense of nostalgia to the record. Beyond nostalgia just being an inherent aesthetic to trad doom, it makes Mönstrum feel like an album aged with wisdom, as if all of these stories are the tales of an experienced traveler, warning the listener of the horrors of hell. Everything is really summoned up in the final track Minotaur, with the band pulling all the stops to make an epic track, full of great riffage and solos that really sounds like the band was putting their best foot forward, the final warning to those who wish to enter the underworld.

This isn’t the most known album out there (far from it), but I hope that these guys get some attention, because they’re doing a pretty damn unique thing in making really heavy, yet nostalgic and laid back traditional doom metal. And who the hell doesn’t want to hear doom meal about the Cerberus?


Cave of Swimmers – Reflection ALBUM REVIEW

Earlier this year I reviewed an album that was a mixture of tech death and latin jazz which ended up being one of my highlights of the year so far. I feel appropriately adding ethnic influences in metal is a great way to spice things up a bit. That is, if you don’t completely fuck it up and instead put in midi synths of flutes calling it nordic folk music. Fortunately, Cave of Swimmers uses actual instruments and, hailing from Miami Florida, decided to mix in some cuban music in doom metal of all things.

Surprisingly enough, it actually works. The two never fully mix with each other, it’s always very much one or the other, as they use the cuban music more as interludes mid song than as a fusion with the doom. Normally I’m all for bands mixing sounds together, but I think in this case the separation is for the best. I’m not really sure how good a depressing fiesta would sound to anyone. In this case, it helps that this is very much more on the traditional doom/heavy metal aspect of the doom heaviness scale, making the upbeat cuban rhythms not seem to clash as much. However that being said, I will note that while this isn’t exactly Indian levels of heavy, it does not at all trade any of it’s doominess for more heavy metal riffage, which is why I see it more as a trad doom album rather than a heavy metal album like rym tags. I really feel that’s a plus, too much doom that mixes with heavy metal goes light on the doom part. I need to feel something crush me when I listen doom metal, taking that away just ruins the experience.

One thing that did annoy me was the repetitive nature of the lyrics. I don’t mean in terms of lyrical themes, I mean as in repeating the same phrases over and over again. It only annoyed me a little bit at first, but it got to be quite a bother as the album went on. I’d even say it seems to be the main lyrical schtick of this album, to my disappointment. It doesn’t even feel like they’re adding emphasis each time. I mean they try to, but it doesn’t actually have the effect I think they desire it to have. I also feel like the last track is completely phoned in and tacked on. It’s one thing to make an album that’s only 32 minutes long and has 4 tracks on it, it’s another for one of the tracks to also be completely useless while making that album. Fortunately it’s the shortest track on the album, but that still clocks in at about 5 minutes. Still Running, the third track, doesn’t really feel like as much of an epic as the first two are either, although clearly more effort was put towards it. I really feel like this would’ve been a better album if they combined the lengths of the last two tracks and put them into one, making an actual epic. Reflection’s strong point is making great doom epics with lots of flavors, twists and turns, all brought together by latin beats and guitars. While I do think this is quite a good album, and quite unique at that, it feels not fully fulfilled to it’s potential, which I think would’ve been solved by either having a longer album, or doing more with how long it is.


Venomous Maximus – Firewalker ALBUM REVIEW

I don’t think it’s exactly a secret at this point that I love old school production if it fits the music, and it does here in spades. The cover looks like it’s straight out of 1971, and the music is very similar to Black Sabbath in their heyday, though a bit heavier. The problem comes in that the first half of the album gives you the feeling that it’s repeating the same song, the same riffs, and giving the same vibe over and over again. And it’s not like what’s being played is bad, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, along with the fact that it doesn’t sound like anything particularly unique. Until that is the second half of the album begins. It still retains that Sabbath style, but it’s much more emotional and dare I say epic, along with the fixing one of the major problems of the first half, which is variety. The first half sounds like mostly the same song over and over again, while the second half uses a wide variety of dynamics and tones to make each song feel like a distinct entity. Probably my favorite example of this on Firewalker is My Machine. Very rarely does a track create a sense of emotional euphoria simply by the tone in which the song is played. And I don’t just mean major or minor key, or what particular key the track is in. I mean the tone in the vocalists voice, the tone of the instruments, the overall somber nature of the track. It feels heart wrenching without overly trying to be that way. It’s just such a shame that the first half had to be the way that it is, otherwise I could’ve easily given this a high 8, maybe even a 9. As it stands, this is still one of the better doom metal albums of this year, and is definitely worth a listen, even if you don’t necessarily love Sabbath.


Valkyrie – Shadows ALBUM REVIEW

If anything, this album taught me that there is a limit to how generic a stoner rock/trad doom album can be before it doesn’t please me anymore. Previously, considering my ratings and feelings on pretty much all of this genre that i had listened to, I did not think it was possible. I thought as long as isn’t shit it’ll shit, it’ll get at least a 6. I was thankfully proven wrong. Sure, it has good riffs, but let’s be real, anything in which the point of the whole genre is riffs is going to have at least a few good ones. That’s just probability, if you put enough ideas out there, some of them will be good. But you to do more than what is expect to get an above average score. I generally like things that are generic but well done, however that’s under the assumption that it’s REALLY well done. If you want to really get technical, this is a “well don” album in that it sounds professional, but that should be the minimum of what any album should do, unless the purpose is the opposite. This sounds professional, but it lacks any sort of imagination. It’s all things I’ve heard before multiple times over. I actually had to really convince myself to give this a fair grade, because one part of me was yelling “but it sounds good!”. So I had to wrangle myself in and tell my biases to commit jihad, because if I want to be objective, this doesn’t deserve anything above a 5. So I’m giving it a 5.5, because I really suck at wrangling myself in.


Sorcerer – In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross

This made me happy as hell. Anything that reminds me of Candlemass make me feel joy, especially since trad doom with at least somewhat operatic vocals is nearly nonexistent these days. I highly recommend this album to anyone who wants not extremely serious metal that you can headbang to.