Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Alchemical Mixture - Church of Void & King Goat (album reviews)

Church of Void - Winter Is Coming EP
From: Jyväskylä, Finland.  Highlights include: "Winter Is Coming"
and "Summerland".  Rating: 5/5.  Release Date: August 24, 2012.
Finns always put a little bit of extra muscle and oomph into their doom metal.  It's because of this that my impression of Finns is of burly, bearded and stout men who fear nothing and charge into every place and/or situation head first, taking every step in life with the most vigorous stride possible if for no other reason than to stay warm.  I've never been to Finland.  I get the feeling very few people have really, for various reasons.  One of those reasons would have to be the harsh cold climate.  The northernmost part of the country lies within the arctic circle, which contains roughly a third of its land mass.  We're talking about a place where it's warm for about two or three months of the year.  Warm being a relative term here.  The average temperature in the Helsinki is below freezing a whopping four months of the year.  So it should come as no surprise that a relatively new doom metal band from that country should name their debut EP 'Winter is Coming'.  What the hell is doomier, gloomier and more frightening than that?  What could be worse?

The raging tempest this band puts forth in it's thunderous clamor does nothing to diminish Finland's reputation for birthing men of weather-battled burl and survivalist vigor.  Church of Void washes in from the New Wave of Traditional Doom, a genre built around powerful rhythms, heavyhanded performances, blinding leads and superlative vocals versed in epic themes and structures.  C of V addresses and attacks this criteria like a homeless man at a church sponsored buffet dinner.  I would direct listeners to the "Strongholds of Karak Varn" to see what I mean.  They have power in spades, structures and leads are in check while the vocals reach as far as they can.  Vocalist Magus Corvus isn't the typical tenor vocalist one might expect fronting a band of this stripe, instead he's a bass with an animal ferocity possessed in a wheeling dervish spin of sympathetic energy through track after track.  He may not be the next King Diamond, but he knows feel and he knows how to put that into the record.

Church of Void make a terrific first impression on their debut disc, taking four equally well-composed and distinctive tracks, each with their own feel and memorability factor.  "The Hour is Getting Late" features a gut wrenching sustained double kick frenzy during  the 'middle eight' which only hints of the greatness that is to come from drummer Byron Vortex's terrific performance on EP closer "Summerland".  This latter track is a  dominating showcase of quiet / loud dynamics perhaps in the vein / tone of early Metallica or "Cemetery Gates" by Pantera.  The band does, however, get out while the getting is good, never dragging on or overextending themselves or their stay, leaving the listener craving for more.  The yearning expressed in this last track is a poignant reminder of the frostbitten roots that this band grew out of.

King Goat - Atom (artwork by Freyja)
From: Brighton, England.  Highlights include: "Nuclear Messiah"
and "Cosmic Mastermind".  Rating: 4/5. Release Date: March 17 2013
But now we go from Finland's frost to Brighton's beaches to find another new act in the domicile of doom, King Goat.  Progressive tendencies and suffocating atmosphere is the name of the game here.  King Goat is another one of those amazing Soggy Bog of Doom podcast discoveries (there seems to be at least one every episode), and are also part of a colossal wave of great new bands out of the seaside town on the south of England.  It seems as though each ripple of water that touches the city's shores carries with it a unique and heavy muse who then lays down on the beach and gives birth to a new and quite different sounding band.

King Goat are of the epic doom variety.  Vocalist Jockum is soulful and expressive, singing with a quavering urgency that gives him the air of a mad prophet.  The local doomsayer whom all shun and despise but in the end is proven right as always.  The guitars are chilling and oppressive, the drums plodding but given boosts by some fine cymbal work.

Overall, 'Atom' is a well conceived EP with each song growing organically out of the previous one.  There's no run on effect or anything like that, but there's a tone that wafts up on opening track, "Machine God" that spills outward into each new song, with each one expanding on and adding to the atmosphere.  Tempos are typically of the 'down' to 'mid' kind, drummer Jon understanding that excitement doesn't always have to come from speed, but can also result from tension.  He takes on that often thankless job and gets it just right.

The recording isn't of the best quality, which is understandable with King Goat being such a new band (and from the looks of it a young band as well), I suspect a high quality recording will bring this band's full potential to light.  As it stands, 'Atom' sounds like a live recording and if it is, they already show some nice polish in terms of interplay and tightness as a unit, which is all the more impressive considering there's five of them usually all playing different rhythms.  It's a promising debut, I can't wait to see what they do next.  One gets the feeling that when the scaly and bloated muse visits them again their next release will be something truly epic.

Church of Void on facebook
King Goat on facebook

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