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Sunday, August 19, 2012

3 Flavours Of Doom: Reviews of Rituals of the Oak, Arc Of Ascent and Inverloch

Following are reviews of what in my opinion are 3 of the strongest releases inside and out side of the Doom Metal sub-genre for 2012. Each are completely unique within that sub genre and are deserving of their own sub doom sub-genre titles if other sheep were to choose to follow them....

Rituals Of The Oak - Come Taste The Doom (Eyes Like Snow)

My best attempt to describe the sound of Sydney’s ‘Rituals of the Oak’ is to suggest trying to imagine the Candlemass ‘Epicus doomicus metallicus’ album but with powerful almost celtic female vocals and a twist of John Christ flavour. But that description still doesn’t do them any justice as they really have a sound of their own.
‘Come Taste The Doom’ is the second Rituals album and it shows a decent advancement in both production and song quality to its predecessor ‘Hour of Judgement’. Strong songs with memorable Heavy Riffs and a clear powerful production are what make this 
The personal stand out tune for me is track 2 “The Horla” with its huge heavy headbanging main riff. Second stand out is the closing track “All Wells Are Poisoned” with its strong chorus echoing a sense of hopelessness for the human race. 
I can’t really write a review of this without making space for a special mention of the lead vocals of Sabine Hammered. Without these Ritals of the Oak wouldn’t sound as unique as it does and on the crescendo of “Serpentine Toungues” her vocals really get a chance to shine!
To sum up this release, if you like doom and if you want t hear something new that’s both different and good get ‘Come Taste The Doom’
You can get pretty much everything from ‘Rituals of the Oak’ HERE 

Arc of Ascent - The Higher Key (Astral Projection)

Imagine if Electric Wizard’s creative inspiration moved from Black Sabbath, and an overindulgence in every mind fucking drug under the face of the sun, onto Hawkwind and transcendental meditation. Instead of murky, heavy, not quite defined sludge with a rhythmic groove, you would get a ride through the cosmos with incredible clarity and the ability to sense everything separately, but all together at the same time. The result would be something that sounds very much like ‘The Higher Key’. 

Of all six almost equally strong tracks on the album “Land of Tides” seems to be the crowd favourite with its memorable sing along chorus. However my personal highlight is “Elemental Kingdom” with its psychedelic monk chant chorus, eastern sounding melody & rhythm and Citar like intro. ”Elemental Kingdom” seems to be the most adventurous and outgoing track. I wonder what AoA might sound like in the future if they were to keep heading in this direction?
Craig’s voice seems all the more strongly enhanced with well thought out harmonies and strategically placed backing vocals. His bass and John’s drums also sound perfect and can be heard clearly in the mix. I could never understand why Craig chose to replace Matt Cole-Baker with Sandy Schaare on Guitar. But on this album his reasons finally make sense. It’s Sandy’s guitar playing that shines and takes AoA up another level on “The Higher Key”. When he’s playing the heavy riffs it’s as heavy as all hell, but when he’s soloing or otherwise, it floats around through time and space as though it’s as light as a feather. 

In comparison the AoA debut album “Circle of the Sun”, whilst an awesome release, sounded more like early “Earache” bands playing Stoner Doom. “The Higher Key” has what “Circle of the Sun” was missing. It’s riffs seem more straightforward and basic yet are somehow more engaging, interesting and with more feeling. These guys are starting to get a bit more international attention paid to them and it’s completely deserved.

Get the digital album HERE or contact the band directly HERE  to find out how to get hold of a physical version. Do it!

Inverloch - Dusk - Subside (Relapse)

Inside the cover of the legendary Disembowelment - Transcendence Into the Peripheral album is an unidentified quote which reads “for we shall not pass this way again”. The question then that one would have to ask when listening to ‘Dusk-Subside’ is“Have they passed that way again?”
There are a few signature aspects of Inverloch sound which are clearly a part of the Disembowelment heritage. Such as heavily reverbed and delayed clean guitar strings which seem to tie this release together and of course slow grinding heavy riffs. But there are also some key differences which are different to that release such as the clarity in sound, playing and production. There less analogue chaos on ‘Dusk-Subside’ which in a way leaves less to the imagination but creates a more direct picture of the music in your mind. 

Song number one “Within Frozen Beauty” is a faster composition with the occasional nod to early 90s death grind such as Bolt Thrower. While the second track “The Menin Road” is closer to the Death doom of Disembowelment. Song Three “Shadows of the Flame” is almost a blend of the concepts used in the first two tracks. All three are solid tracks and are worthy of the bands introduction to the realm of recorded music. 
The main criticism I’ve read about this release is “it’s only 3 Songs”, which I’d have to agree with, I’m wanting to hear more! The “Dusk - Subside” listening experience is over too early and feels like a mere taster.

Have Inverloch passed the way of disembowelment again? My answer is “No”. This is a new band with traces of its past laced into the sound. Whilst I was skeptical at first, I applaud Inverloch for making the bold change from the d.usk name so as to make that separate distinction from Disembowelment. They have however crossed an intersection in highway of their predecessors. But they are headed off on an overgrown dirt side road through a darkened forest, much liked that featured on the EP cover. Dusk-Subside contains the fruits from only the beginning of this new journey. 

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