Written by: Blackie Skulless
Considering Dread Sovereign’s semi-decent following, it’s amazing that I’ve only stumbled upon them this year, as well as the closely-tied Primordial. Dropping their third album titled Alchemical Warfare, they’ve awoken an inner beast that wasn’t realized earlier. This doom outfit treads far darker waters, dealing in satanic lyrical themes and medieval tamperings, wrapped in storming fury. Given what we know, it fits with the black metal-painted history of the frontman.
With six tracks, an intro, an interlude, and a Bathory cover, Dread Sovereign stretches their writing boundaries to great lengths. Nemtheanga and Co. primarily focus on epic build-up, pummeling drum/rhythm guitar blowouts, and galloping leads. Almost every song crawls in with some kind of noise or anticipation, but what breaks them up is how they proceed to the heavy clashing. “Nature Is The Devil’s Church” sneaks in and wreaks havoc with blitzing intensity and raging riffs that don’t cool down for its entire run-time. Others like the opening “She Wolves Of The Savage Season” stick around for a while to really build that momentum. It then focuses on a steadier trudge once it picks up.
Varying the same approach in different ways is key to the success in Alchemical Warfare. The way it is implemented in “Her Master’s Voice” rings back to more traditional doom metal territory, reminiscent of the bluesy classics of its genre. This fits in wonderfully with the others, allowing some breathing room within the consistency. Placing it in the center for an eye-of-the-storm effect did wonders here, and I think the overall placement of songs worked in this record’s favor.
On the other hand, you do get a few surprises that break character. The harder energy isn’t lost, but a snappier approach can be found at the leading and trailing ends of this. “The Great Beast We Serve” lets the band’s heavy metal wings stretch far, cranking out an anthemic piece for good measure following the disc’s longest tune. “Devil’s Bane” also smacks with crunchy and punchy riffs in the same manner. The vocals even feel a bit more gruff here, and most importantly, it never feels out of place.
Really, these Irish lads are just incredible at piecing together already strong bits into something masterful. Every instrument pops out at some point or another and the final product flows cleanly with some dirty tinges in the mix. The dark atmosphere and large amounts of variance just bring it above and beyond.
Dread Sovereign - Alchemical Warfare was released Jan. 15th, 2021 from Metal Blade Records
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!