|Doom Metal, Epic Heavy Metal
Cruz Del Sur Records
October 2nd, 2010
Release length: 1:08:08
While some of the songs do have a rather epic feel to the music, the real epic element of this release, perhaps, is the track lengths. Many of the songs on here flow at a very slow pace, setting a very solemn atmosphere to the music, as if the songs were composed in a manner befitting a memory of a fallen soldier or something along those lines. While this sounds like a great thing, there’s still something odd about this album that actually kind of holds it down. The production quality of the album isn’t that great, and the guitars are either heavily distorted, or the studio that recorded this effort was really amateurish or out of date, as there is a lot of noise in the guitars on the final product. This actually goes with the latter of the two options, as it’s hard to picture this static accompanying them as part of the distortion used. But, this isn’t what holds the album back, but it does feed into the main issue this release has. What this album lacks is a real bite since it feels like you’re listening to some kind of eighties hair metal group doing some kind of viking based Metal anthem most of the time. This is the case on the track “Pilgrim (Through the Ruins of Europa)”, which is mostly thanks to the vocals that sounds, and even performed, layered, and echoed like something you’d expect on one of these records, especially when layered over one another. As a side note, near the end of this song, there is also the sound of a loud crashing, like a large gong or something, but due to the poor quality of the sound and how far in the background it is, it actually sounds more like someone is just repeatedly flushing a toilet in the background and the microphones are actually picking it up. It also appears at the start of “Temple of Katholic Magick”, which at least sounds heavier then the first two tracks on here and more like a Heavy Metal band wrote it then a Hair Metal act.
With the complaints of the Hair Metal issue aside, the music here is alright. The music goes at a snail’s pace, which does help out with the epic side of the music, which cannot be denied, even from the first track, “Fountains of Nepenthe”. One can say that the music actually takes from the pace of a Doom Metal release, but that simply reflects the pace of the songs. But, even with that, the songs are far from boring and often offer up enough changes and solos to keep the listener attentive from start to finish on both the shorter songs, and even the insanely long tracks such as “A Prophet in the Forest”. “The White Goddess”, however, is a track that honestly didn’t need to be, as it’s simply an instrumental build up for “Temple of Katholic Magick”, and it bleeds right into the song. Given the nature of the compositions, as well as the length, this could have just been tacked on and it wouldn’t have mattered in the long run. “Disciples of the Iron Crown” stands out nicely on the album, as it’s the first fast paced track on the release, but due to the increase in speed, the band’s more epic approach is essentially lost, though there is still a slight hint of it during the chorus, and sounds like there’s some keyboards in the background but they are so low it’s hard to hear or even tell if it’s the keyboard of one of the guitars half the time. Luckily, this isn’t the only fast paced track to the album, as there’s also “The Atlantean Kodex” which is a great heavy Metal track that just sounds like it was ripped from an early Heavy Metal album entirely.
And perhaps that’s the reason behind the production of the quality. When you sit down and listen to the album as a whole and give it time to grow on you, these complaints about the quality, outside of the gong sound that seems more like a flushing toilet, the static in the guitars, and the keyboards in the background, this release honestly does sound like an early Heavy Metal album, not quite to the days of Judas Priest and the like, but more along the lines of the bands that those early acts inspired, recorded on vinyl through analog recording devices. If that was the intent, then a good job was done here. Either way, the material on The Golden Bough is quite enjoyable, and even the longest track, “A Prophet in the Forest”, boasts enough solid material for the entire fifteen minutes it plays on to keep the listener happy enough to want to come back for more.
01. Fountain of Nepenthe – 10:08
02. Pilgrim (Through the Ruins of Europa) – 11:27
03. The White Goddess – 0:56
04. Temple of Katholic Magick – 8:20
05. Disciples of the Iron Crown – 4:12
06. Vesperal Hymn – 6:16
07. The Atlantean Kodex – 7:19
08. A Prophet in the Forest – 15:00
09. The Golden Bough – 1:51
|Overall Score: 8/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Cruz Del Sur Music.