Sunday, 10 March 2013

Weed Priest - ST (album review)

Artwork by William 'The Elder' Faithorne.
Weed Priest are a band that I've been keenly interested in ever since sampling them on the Grip of Delusion: Book of Riff-Elations comp.  Of the nearly one hundred songs from the compilation that I was previously unfamiliar with, Weed Priest's entry stood out for its fantastic riff and authentic, no-nonsense doom sound.  I immediately downloaded the rest of their demos from their reverbnation page and became quite hopeful of what I saw as a bright future for the band.  Of the eleven songs demoed by the band over the past three or four years, six of them made the final cut for their official full-length debut.  Happily, the previously hinted at song, "Thy Kingdom Gone" made the final cut and becomes the centerpiece of this sweeping work.

Weed Priest draw a black curtain of atmospheric doom, billowing with ebon dark moods and eldritch energy.  The recording of this album took place on Samhain at what the band calls a location of spiritual significance: the deconcecrated ground of the abandoned Franciscan Church on Henry street in Limerick.  Here's the stunning proof [Also, see photo below].  Indeed, as per the liner notes the music contained on their debut disc was channeled through the band rather than written by them.  The feel the band puts into this album leads one astray from contrary argument: I wouldn't doubt their word

One thing that makes the band stick out among a crowded field is their ability to remain approachable in the face of their panoptic referencing of musky and fog-shrouded ambience, esoteric influences and neo-pagan indulgences, never straying too far afield of solid and accessible stoner doom riffs as their basic starting point.  To wit, "Walpurgia" features one of the best riffs this reviewer's ever heard, barring Mr. Iommi originals.  "Erichtho" is not far behind in terms of quality of riffs.

So the music is approachable, still there's extremity involved in this record.  Vitriolic vocals of the grinding kind, more barked than sang stab across each composition, soiling the delicately laced tapestry of floating and distant melodies.  The length and vintage of these six tracks gives an idea of the pace and unblinking focus this band has in crafting the best possible album with the best possible songs.  The fact that they cut it to six tracks while drawing from a pool of eleven songs of mostly similar high standard is further evidence of this.  That they waited for the perfect time and place to record the album under what they considered to be the optimal conditions for atmosphere also speaks highly of this.  In other words, Weed Priest is a band that gives a shit about the quality of their music and will not settle for second best.  Not in terms of quality, not in terms of effort.  There is nothing that rings phony about this band or this album.

The albums opens with a clip from the 1971 film The Devils and spills forth like graveyard mist into opening track "Final Spell".  The listener is buckled in for a 13 minute doomfest which the band has chosen to shoot a promo video for (see video below).  It's a good choice as it represents the best combination of length and memorability of song to make the most lasting impression from the album.  The ending features an mournful passage that captures the mood of devastating revelation perfectly (it's something the band has a knack for and we see this ability again two tracks later on "Walpurgia").  As previously stated the next two tracks "Erichtho" and "Walpurgia" are built around some killer riffs.  "Erichtho" has some great guitar / drum interplay and builds great riff upon great riff before coming to "Walpurgia" which sits atop the gleaming tower of riffs that are on display.

"They Kingdom Gone" is just a great song, a riff that is like staring into the spinning void of a pandaemonic gateway (or Galway), without question the abyss stares back at the listener.  The song becomes very much a call to battle with its pounding toms and ringing tones that are like a clarion call atop a hill during an overcast dawn.  A battle with demons, but which side are you on here?  To the right, the defenders of the hill, on the left the invaders.  The final two cuts each tip the scales at over 11 minutes long.  The title / eponymous track, "Weed Priest" is a slow doom monster with bendy riffs and some seriously heavy hitting on the drumkit.  I'm telling you, "Weed Priest" is heavier than the planet Earth itself.  The album finishes off with the 13 minute plus "Day of Reckoning", a hypnotic, riff based number with warning sirens that takes its time in building to the final conclusion.

Some of these songs are as much as four years old which is to say that listeners shouldn't expect a workhorse like pace from this band in the future.  One record every three to five years from now to eternity would certainly make this reviewer happy.  The mere fact that the band has taken years to develop the songs and never strayed from their original intent but only polished them up should give the reader an idea of the quality of the songs on this album and the focus this band has.  There's no doubt these six songs will stand the test of time and induce future generations to the wonders of doom.  This record already has the feel of a future classic, one that will be around as a reference point for doom heads and as a recruiting tool to snag initiates to the genre for years to come, much like 'In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend', Witchsorrow's debut or 'Sub Templum'.  'Weed Priest' is an unqualified success.

Highlights include: "Thy Kingdom Gone" and "Walpurgia"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 1:00:52

Adam De Monlung - Guitars, Vocals
Ragas Walpurgis - Bass
Adrian Elatha - Drums

From: Galway, Ireland

Genre: Doom, Sludge, Occult

Reminds me of: Dopelord, Moss, Set

Release Date: February 25, 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Draw blood and create something from nothing.

Better Reviews:
Temple of Perdition
Born Again Nihilist

Weed Priest on facebook
Weed Priest on ReverbNation
Weed Priest on Encyclopedia Metallum

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