Cathedral Go Back into the Forest

Posted in Reviews on June 24th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

I made sure to get the one with the sticker. Definitely the reissue. See how thorough I am? I can't believe nobody reads this site.Usually when an allegedly limited edition reissue comes out and it’s packing a bonus DVD, it’s a completely skip worthy live set shot on one or two cameras with crappy sound that’s boring as hell. That, or like in the case of Earache‘s tackling last year of Cathedral‘s 1995 classic, The Carnival Bizarre, it’s all previously released. Review-wise, the second disc obliges a mention and little else. For their remaster of the seminal UK doomers’ 1991 I don't even know if this is the right lineup, but there's five of them, so I'm rolling with it.debut, Forest of Equilibrium, however, the label has included a new 40-minute interview with the band about their career and making this album. Previously unreleased and relevant.

Granted, it’s shot mostly on one camera — other footage is spliced in — and it requires serious attention paid to dig words out of those Coventry accents, but it was enough for me to at least check it out before doing the review, hoping I’d learn something. I learned the “Ebony Tears” video (also included) kicks ass.

The audio portion of the release includes 1992’s Soul Sacrifice EP as another bonus and is a landmark in doom. Vocalist Lee Dorrian (blah blah Napalm Death, blah blah Rise Above Records), guitarists Gaz Jennings and Adam Lehan, bassist Mark Griffiths and drummer Mike Smail created a seven-track classic that’s morose by any standard you want to apply — even in comparing it to what was happening doom-wise in the UK at the time with My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and Anathema. Put it next to Cathedral‘s last release, 2005’s The Garden of Unearthly Delights, and it almost sounds like a completely different band (Lehan, Griffiths and Smail being long gone might also have something to do with that).

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Alfred Morris III: A Conversation with the Man of Iron

Posted in Features on June 8th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

They come with their own border.In the church of true doom, there is a stained glass window in honor of Iron Man. Born out of a scene comparable to none other in the United States, namely Maryland and greater metro D.C. area, Iron Man stand out among theironal1 truest of the traditional doomers. Led by guitarist and senior riffmaster Alfred Morris III — who after more lineup changes than any band should have to endure is now accompanied by vocalist Joe Donnelly, bassist Louis Strachan and drummer Dex Dexter — the band this April released their first studio full-length in a decade, the appropriately titled (and recently reviewed) I Have Returned.

I Have Returned swims a magic ocean of classically melancholic doomisms, pushing a timeless sound into a receptive modern age and earning the respect of heads young and old. Released via Pittsburgh‘s Shadow Kingdom Records, the album issues 10 tracks (all available for sampling on the band’s MySpace page) of cult-worthy riffs and enough woe to last until 2019. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait that long for the next record.

After the jump, “Iron” Al Morris III graciously answers some questions about his band’s past, present and future, including the story of how they reformed in 2004 and what it was like being back in the studio to make I Have Returned. Enjoy.

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Templars of Doom Looks Like it’s Worth the Trip

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 27th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

Protecting the church of true doom.They just announced the final lineup and I don’t know from nothin’, but it looks to be a killer assemblage of traditional and otherwise doomed-as-fuck bands. Friends of the site Bulletwolf are playing, so good for them, and PA‘s Pale Divine will be there too. Shit, and Earthride.? I might just have to make the drive to Indianapolis. Full lineup is after the jump.

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Leif Edling’s Adventures in Light and Shadow

Posted in Features on March 6th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

Next time you think you're doom, remember this picture.When Swedish doom legends Candlemass wrapped their touring for 2007, bassist and primary songwriter Leif Edling, whose riffs make me get all Jodie Foster in Contact — “Should have sent a poet,” etc. — had a couple weeks to himself. Accordingly, he wrote a solo album.

Songs of Torment, Songs of Joy, released in November 2008 by GMR in Sweden and March 10, 2009 by Candlelight in the US, is the resulting work, culled together from a host of musical ideas ranging from homage to Jules Verne to simply wanting to write a song about a serial killer in out of space. These are the most sincere of inspirations. Joining Edling in this endeavor is Candlemass keyboardist Dr. Carl Westhelm, guitarists Bj?rn Eriksson and Chris Laney (also engineer) and drummer Lars Sk?ld, all of whom, as we’ll see, are apparently quite busy people.

Note: If you’re the type to stop reading the interview halfway through (it happens to everyone), make sure you catch the part at the end where he talks about his Black Sabbath collection.

There’s already been a review (and not a short one), so without further ado on my part, after the jump we join the Leif Edling interview, already in progress…

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Late Night Review: Isole, “Silent Ruins”

Posted in Reviews on February 26th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

There's Redemption in here somewhere...It’s 2:00AM and the cops, as ever, are sitting in the parking lot of the firehouse across the street, waiting for nobody. Practically no one drives past this late — even the drunks are home by now on a Wednesday night. Something died outside and I can smell it comingling with the farts and sleepy dog stink in this room through the open window. Like Orange Goblin says, “Some you win, some you lose.” I promised myself I’d write this review before I went to bed today, so let’s do this thing:

Pop the top on Isole‘s fourth album in as many years (they had a seven inch in ’06 as well), Silent Ruins (Napalm Records), and the first word to appear in your mind is bound to be, “Sweden.” No other country in the EU or anywhere else for that matter could produce a band to successfully harness this kind of epic doom. Oh, there’s acts from elsewhere who’ll try, but usually they fall on their ass. Even if you hadn’t traced the four-piece through the first two albums they put out on I Hate Records, you’d know it right away.

So, Sweden it is, with fingers pointing vaguely in the classic direction of countrymen Candlemass (the track “Nightfall” could have been on the album of the same name) and the Viking-inspired days of black metal pioneers Bathory (pieces of opener “From the Dark” and follow-up “Forlorn” apply the style, admittedly without laying it on as thick as Ereb Altor), Isole lurches forth to leave a grandiose footprint in the international traditional doom marketplace, bringing in some Solitude Aeturnus-style riff and vocal power on “Soulscarred.” They do alright in pulling it off without sounding like a band totally copycatting their influences.

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Asylum: Exiled in Unorthodoxy

Posted in Reviews on February 24th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

Notice how from left to right they get progressively more shirted.Part of Shadow Kingdom Records‘ “Let’s See How Much Awesome Crap We Can Reissue” Project (I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s called), this unearthing of Asylum‘s The Earth is the Insane Asylum of the Universe demo couldn’t have arrived at a better time. It seems these days that more and more American retro doom bands (see The Gates of Slumber, Apostle of Solitude, etc.) are trying with varying degrees of success to sound just like these Maryland gents did back in 1985. It’s refreshing every now and then to hear the real deal.

That’s what’s on offer with this demo (doomo?); true Sabbathian doom, impeccably played and with a flair for speedier Mot?rhead-style antics shown on “Moment of Truth” and the following, newly-included “Moment of Truth II.” The band that would later become Unorthodox, just at their beginnings here, skillfully meld a “Heaven and Hell” bass line with an epic Led Zeppelin guitar riff on “Bell Witch (Red Skull),” while Dale Flood‘s vocals slur their way out with an early-metallic fuck-all that I’m quite sure made some high school principal very angry on the days Flood chose to show up. Certainly his boys room smoking couldn’t have been as out of hand as the soloing on that song.

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