Thursday, 13 June 2013

Rote Mare - The Invocation & The Kingdom (album reviews)

Cover artwork by Sean Wiskin (guitars)
I don't know how or where Phil Howlett, the original member and leader of the band came up with the name Rote Mare, but it sounds to me like a recurring nightmare, committed to memory, beat for beat, moment for moment.  That's as good a description of the band's spot-on traditional doom sound as one could come up with.  Moody, downtuned devil's third riffs and plodding drums with pleading, hopeless vocals just about sum it up and hit the nail right on the head of this beloved genre.  If slow, monumental doom is your bag, then say hello to 'The Invocation'.  If galloping and graceful doom, powerful and sleek like a panther is more your bag, shake hands with 'The Kingdom'.  Either way, you won't be disappointed, but I warn you, if you listen to them both at once ... it's almost too big a dose for the system to take and you'll get addicted right away.

The Invocation and The Kingdom are albums that are available separately but go together like green eggs and ham.  The covers connect and they were both recorded and released at once so, for all intents and purposes, this is a double album and that's how I'll be referring to it from now on.  All told this ostensible double album provides over two full hours of darkness.  Even then, played back to back, it's still not enough.  I crave more and more from this band due to my recently acquired drowning addiction.  Turning over pillows and couch cushions digging for loose change so that I can hear more.  Checking the dumpsters.  You hear a deep wail in the background and seek its source hoping to find the Rote Mare only to discover it's electrical and ambient hum from a neighboring building generator.  Shaking out the toaster, running in circles, pulling my hair out until it's all I can think about, more, MORE!  Luckily, Rote Mare does have more.  In fact, they have hours and hours of music available on their bandcamp page (see player below) and their own website with which to feed yours and my new found addiction.

Officially, these two albums represent the band's second and third full-length efforts, respectively, but as I touched on, Phil Howlett has been writing and recording voraciously for the better part of a decade as Rote Mare and the full line-up has been recording with him for nearly half that time so the band may be new to many, but they already have an established and mature sound which is explored brilliantly in two parts with 'The Invocation' covering the Rote Mare's slower more menacing side and 'The Kingdom' running on some more quick-firing cylinders, but also exploring the slower territory as well.

'The Invocation' begins with opening track "The Kingdom", just as 'The Kingdom' album ends with album closer "The Invocation", a tongue in cheek reference to the ambitious nature of this project that is neither a true double album nor features a concept or narrative thread in any way.  Nor in fact did Rote Mare intend on releasing this overwhelming helping of doom all in one sitting.  The material was recorded while the band had the opportunity with the intention of releasing a single album and having a glut of material at the ready for any single and / or split releases that might crop up in the future.  Enthusiasm and conviction took care of those plans however as the decision was made to just get it all out at once.  Well, those feelings are well founded.  As was touched upon earlier, by far the slowest songs or more accurately, more somber moods of the bunch are found on 'The Invocation'. Songs like "The Stones of Blood" and especially "Nothing" grind listeners down like pepper in a shaker within their often morose vibes.  The latter track establishes its presence as the album's centerpiece with its 14 minute dirge which brings out the often discussed "goth-tinge" in Howlett's vocals.  It suits the mood of the song hand in glove.

'The Kingdom' is mostly made up of six tracks cut from the cloth of classic traditional doom in all its greasy riff chugging glory.  The album is perhaps exemplified by "The Thief" with its stalker's pace although "Shameless" sticks in the mind also with its memorably pleading refrain, "Suffers no guilt!".  "Suicidal Slayer" springs across the speakers like an annihilation wave and gallops all over the listener, a relatively quick burst at six minutes in length that just may be the best song of the whole bunch.

The main crux of the two albums comprises 11 songs altogether, but there are 14 tracks here with a pair of covers, one for each album.  'The Invocation' features "Holocaust" by 70s "should-have-been-huge-stars-but-were-criminally-ignored" legends Big Star while 'The Kingdom' has "Destroyer" by "tore-congress-a-new-one-when-they-were-supposed-to-be-just-dumb-rockers-who-couldn't-think-and-couldn't-speak" Twisted Sister.  Due to permission issues the songs are available on the CD versions of these albums only and are not available on the bandcamp download.  Both CDs can be purchased as a combo for 15 Australian dollars from the band's website.  Some confusion enters the mix by the inclusion of a bonus track at the end of 'The Invocation' called "Eternal Winter".  It's an older song, originally recorded by the newly minted Rote Mare lineup back in 2009 (Rote Mare started as Phil Howlett's solo project back in 2005 or thereabouts).  It's not clear whether this is a download only bonus track or if it's available on the CD version of the album as well.  It's also not clear whether or not this is a brand new recording, but it is of excellent sound quality as is everything else on this double album.

I can already tell that this is something that I'll be going back to for a long, long time to come.  Rote Mare also has a recent split with Dire Fate which I have coming in the mail along with the two albums featured here today.  It was released just a couple months before these two.  The download of Rote Mare's half of the split from the band's own bandcamp page has a bonus three demos as well.  This is the band that keeps on giving.

Highlights include: "The Serpent" and "The Thief"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 1:06:07

Phil Howlett - Guitar, Vocals
Ben Dodunski - Drums
Sean Wiskin - Guitar
Jess Erceg - Bass

From: Adelaide, Australia

Genre: Traditional Doom Metal

Reminds me of: Cathedral, Echo and the Bunnymen (vocals), The Gates of Slumber, Paradise Lost

Release Date: May 21, 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Hook up an old portable TV to a tombstone with jumper cables ...

Rote Mare facebook

Total Run Time: 1:04:58

** Very special thanks to Steph LS from Temple of Perdition for recommending Rote Mare.

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