Blood Red Victory is--praise the gods of battle above--the textbook definition of a grower. At initial listen, IRONFLAME seemed banal at best, a deliberate and unassuming second fiddle to literally any of Iron Maiden's more, well, banal moments. IRONFLAME, my early notes indicate, is to Snoke as Bruce Dickinson is to Palpatine--a fallible facsimile.
But I couldn't have been more wrong. While Blood Red Victory isn't a showstopping album by any means, it is, in fact, a delightfully astute and solid recreation of the trad metal sound. Despite listening a great many times over the past few weeks, I'm inclined to throw it on one more time. Or maybe two more times. Let’s just see where the day takes us, shall we?
Autumn was a brief affair here at the Sleeping Village, and now that rime coats our beards and the snow has unceremoniously de-robed the trees, we slumbering scribes are all set to slip into hibernation for the next five months or so.
But! To combat said lethargy before it truly sets in, I, in all my administration authority, bequeathed our archivist to trawl through our overstuffed mailcart for something worthy of our collective attention. When he emerged, Galaxy’s sci-fi inspired debut EP clutched in white-knuckled grasp, I was confident we had, at very least, an approximation of a winner. And so here we are, blasting Lost From the Start ‘till our lids droop. Feel free to join in the festivities.
Our shadowy cabal of scribes has happened upon one of the most wondrous and/or perplexing albums in existence. The following reviews, released over the course of several days, is our humble attempt to decipher that which lays before us. Prepare thyself. - Ed.
Written by: Loveloth
On November 25th, in year of our Lord 2019, I, Loveloth, release upon thee a review of a record to end all records. I am, of course, referring to Remmirath's sophomore Shambhala Vril Saucers. In case you somehow don't know about them, they were formed in Bratislava many moons ago and while they share three members with Malokarpatan, they sound completely different. Calling them eclectic may sound pretentious, but I truly believe they are.
Things start off blackishly enough with "Tiger Of The City," whose generic riffs and blastbeats lulled me into a false sense of security before unleashing a deadly weapon--synths. Synths that would find no trouble finding themselves on a Hawkwind record. Assisting it is a bass that sounds equally as 70's, but as soon as you get used to it--riff time.
Generally, whilst writing a review, I immerse myself in a band's back catalog. In the case of Screamer's four-album discography, that particular exercise feels moot: I already know what color-by-numbers heavy metal sounds like. While that may come off as pretty disparaging--and it is, to a minor degree, because Highway Of Heroes is less than inventive--this consistency in aesthetic ain't bad. Not by a long shot. This haggard scribe can get down with some blatant worship of convention, and in this regard, Screamer are unmatched in their old school heavy metal spirituality. While it did, admittedly, take a few listens to sink in, I'm confident in stating that Highway Of Heroes is one of the year's best entries in NWOBHM and affiliated fun-lovin' categories.
As a sobered collective of secularists, the Sleeping Village wouldn’t typically welcome a High Priest into our midst. But here we are: praising, with undisguised zeal, the latest effort from these Chicagoan doom-slingers. Such is the power of the riff. High Priest's forthcoming Sanctum is a wondrously enjoyable release, and we’re honored to spread the good word.
Sanctum is an addictive 4-track slab, a well-conceived coagulation of influences. Promo material cites Alice In Chains, Pallbearer, and Trouble, while additionally recalling the group’s genesis at an Electric Wizard show. These are bold comparisons for an untested crew...but comparisons with which I am very much inclined to agree. While the downtrodden AiC style vocalizations and the swirling Wagner-esque compositions are spot-on, I’d argue that High Priest occupy a surprisingly subtle spot in the doomverse. While undeniably (and characteristically) riff-centric, no track here even begins to feel weighed down or drawn out. While melancholic and sorrowful, Sanctum never wallows or loses its delightful dynamism. And while approaching, at times, NWOBHM’s trademark melodic drive, it never feels excessive, nor does it fly off the rails with reckless abandon. In this sense, High Priest demonstrate the genre-melding abilities of Valkyrie, or perhaps even Desolation-era Khemmis. It’s hard to bring something new to the doom game, but High Priest feel remarkably unique in their tempered approach. Bottom line: this EP displays a very modern edge while simultaneously illustrating a variety of sounds that helped define doom and sludge. Not, my friends, a bad place to be.
Sanctum kicks of with the excellent Descent, which remains, to this Villager’s ear, the best thing these guys have ever written. Here, High Priest is firing on absolutely every cylinder. Militaristic drums, decidedly soulful vocals, expansive-yet-immersive riffs that weave and meld with confidence. The twin guitar approach rips with power and precision, and the chorus is an absolute beast. Descent is on course to become a contender for most played track o’ the year, and for good reason.
Beyond this unabashed display of prowess right outta the gate, Creature and Paradigm reinforce initial assumptions. That is, High Priest know how to write a compelling song. As alluded to before, there is little space for stagnation. The tastiest licks and most rollicking riffs are afforded the perfect amount of time in the spotlight. And while that’s all well and good, the latter track, in particular, displays some notably fantastic work in the percussive department. For a band and genre that inherently places such (deserved) emphasis on the guitars, it’s genuinely wonderful to hear such a strong showing from the drummer. Truly a standout performance. Closer Offering, while displaying a certain Troubleing vibe and strong dynamism in the vocal delivery, does feel a tad long. Given otherwise impressive fat-trimming chops, the back half here does feel slow in comparison. As a whole, however, we’re left with a very well executed package.
As riff-worshipers, you and I are walloped with a lot of doom on a daily basis. Keeping that in mind, it’s fair to say that High Priest are going places. Sanctum comes highly recommended. If you need some convincing, listen to Descent below:
Providing thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy, and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a groggy-eyed, highfalutin peasantry.