Anyone can make a demo, and I think at this point most people have. Hailing from Pamiers in Southern France, the classic heavy rocking four-piece DoctoR DooM emerge from what I can only assume is some sort of secret Reed-Richards-hating lair with their first DoomO, which — you guessed it — is a demo of doom. Three songs, a bit over 17 riff-led minutes that’s solid if bolstered by its familiarity, and an unpretentious approach to what at this point has become a genuine retro-minded subgenre of heavy rock. For their part, though DoctoR DooM dabble in Graveyard-isms on the closing and fittingly-enough titled “Stuck in the Past,” but come off at very least showing the intent of forming their own sound, and ambitious as it is in its name, I wouldn’t ask much more of DoomO than that.
Rising from silence with feedback to establish natural low-end fuzz at its beginning, opener “The Sun” starts out foreboding with a sample about dying with a sword in hand from 1999’s The 13th Warrior, but winds up much friendlier than the start portends, with a riff that gives friendly jabs reminiscent of any number of heavy ’70s pushers and the smooth vocals of guitarist JL Pasquet, joined in the four-piece by guitarist J Delattre, bassist S Boutin Blomfield and drummer M Marcq. The swagger is readily on display, and Blomfield adds keys to the second half of the song, giving some complexity before a brief progressive run emerges before the ending chorus. Keys are more constant in the longer “Relax You’re Dead” — which clocks in at 7:16 where the opener and “Stuck in the Past” each hover on either side of five minutes — albeit low in the mix, and a bluesier vibe pervades with a more memorable hook in the chorus and a series of hits and stops that gives way to ballsy dual-leads from Delattre and Pasquet. It’s not anything that’s never been done before, but it makes even more sense with the instrumental jam that caps — led into by a couple guttural “ooh”s and a channel-panning far-back scream — fading to acoustic guitar at the end after more solo/organ antics.
If “Relax You’re Dead” is DoctoR DooM at their most engaging, and I’d argue it is right up to the Eagles tonality of the unplugged section, then “Stuck in the Past” is them at their most stylistically cohesive. Pasquet pushes himself more vocally, and they hint at development of an effective mid-paced swing and match it with an even more blues-infused lead than that of the track preceding — the keys not quiet matching the energy level of the guitar but coming along for the ride anyway — leaving a positive impression for what they might do moving ahead of this batch of songs. I’m not sure how the DoomO artwork, which shows vinyl covers for Graveyard and Coven and a novelty bottle of TruBlood poured into a Duvel glass — perhaps the band’s statement of how seriously cult rock should be taken? — plays into the release overall, but the four-piece has plenty of time to figure out that kind of thing and the rest of it.
For now, their DoomO shows DoctoR DooM as having some potential to grow into their own, and I’m glad to add it to The Obelisk Radio. You can hear it now as part of the regular, streaming-all-the-damn-time playlist, and snag a free download from the Bandcamp player below: