Thursday, 19 September 2013

Church of Void - Dead Rising (album review)

The rise of Finnish doom quintet Church of Void has seemed nothing less than meteoric.  Blasting onto the Paranoid radar with their 'Winter Is Coming' EP in late January (see my review), it was clear to me that this band meant business, took no prisoners and were one to watch.  It turns out, by the time I'd caught wind of their self-released EP, they'd already been snatched up by local underground giants Svart Records.  But, as always, what may seem like an overnight sensation on the surface is actually the culmination of a long process of discovery, some of which has been made by the band, some of which has been made of the band by the world at large.  The world will do well to take notice of Church of Void.

Where the 'Winter Is Coming' EP is a direct, four song, saber-rattling cavalry charge, 'Dead Rising' is a broader look at the battle as a whole.  Scenes of valor, bravery and tragedy are juxtaposed by war room tones, poring over maps and strategies.  Some of the nervous tension and white knuckled fury of the EP is missing, but 'Dead Rising' documents the maturing process of a band that is finding its voice.  Much like the overarching story of the original Robert E. Howard stories of his iron-thewed barbarian Conan, Church of Void's story so far (short and incomplete though it may be) is one of aggression boiling into maturity.  The blades flash and the skulls split, but there's a decisiveness of action here.  Fast blazing dungeon escapes are met with equal measure by throne room contemplation.  Often, like a good, full story, those scenes appear within the same song (see "Son of a Witch").

As for "Winter Is Coming", the song itself has been re-recorded for the album in a brisker version, retaining much the same feel, while as touched upon earlier, it sounds like a more composed and controlled performance.  It's a worthy inclusion to the album anyway and no matter how many times I've heard it, it still stands out here as one of the album's best tracks.  And because of its inclusion, you can hear how it has been a kind of blueprint for the band with its slow chugging, driving rhythms and wailing emotive guitars (this 'blueprint' is seemingly followed on "Entity of Kalypso" for example).  The song is made all the more poignant at this point in time because, yes, winter really is coming and I still can't think of anything more gloomy, doomy or frightening than that.

From there the albums opens onto what may be the fledgling band's magnum opus, the title track, 'Dead Rising'.  The natural, deeper qualities of vocalist Magus Corvus's voice find full expression here and he delivers with a memorable verse / chorus performance.  All the while, the guitars of Georgios Funeral and Adolf Darkschneider remain consistent, not only on the song "Dead Rising" but throughout the entire album, scratching out quality riff after quality riff.  The guitars aren't downtuned in extremis nor are they distorted out of all recognition and they are given pride of place in the mix.  The whole set-up smacks of a band that gives a shit about their own musicianship and if there's one thing to take from the album, it's the professionalism of it all.  I said in the beginning that this band means business, and I meant it!

And what you end up with is a full album which provides a full listening experience, not a single note hammered over and over again.  Those kind of one dimensional albums can be a great listening experience too and great for when you're writing fiction and need a particular feel to write a particular scene.  'Dead Rising' has all the hallmarks of a classic album.  Dynamics, variation, a multi-faceted approach to mood and tempo while all kept within the parameters of an identifiable sound with a strong emphasis on the heavy.  It's a sound that's firmly rooted in traditional doom and is very much a Finnish sound.  Church of Void give you your money's worth.

Highlights include: "Winter Is Coming" and "Dead Rising"

Rating: 4/5

1). Tristess (2:53)
2). Son of a Witch (4:54)
3). Winter Is Coming (4:53)
4). Dead Rising (8:20)
5). Owls Are Listening (4:45)
6). The Magician (3:07)
7). Entity of Kalypso (6:12)
8). Little Child Lost (8:44)
Total Run Time: 43:45

Harley Warlock (Bass, backing vocals)
Byron Vortex (Drums)
Adolf Darkschneider (Lead Guitar)
Georgios Funeral (Rhythm Guitar)
Magus Corvus - Vocals

From: Jyväskylä, Finland

Genre: Traditional Doom

Reminds me of: Cardinals Folly, Cpt Kronos, Grave Siesta, The Wandering Midget

Release Date: August 30, 2013

Church of Void on facebook


OR HERE (digital)

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