Metal Review – Death Penalty: Sign of Times 7″

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Metal Review – Death Penalty: Sign of Times 7″
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Death Penalty: Sign of Times
Doom Metal, Heavy Metal
Rise Above Records
August 5th, 2014
Release length: 10:12
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It was a sad day when Cathedral announced they were calling it a day. With one of the most important names in Doom Metal now defunct, it was only a matter of time before its members began to resurface in other projects, and that time is now. Death Penalty is a new outing from that legendary group’s now former guitarist Garry “Gaz” Jennings, as well as female Belgian vocalist Michelle Nocon, drummer Fredrik “Cozy” Cosemans (both members of Serpentcult), and bassist Raf Meukens. Death Penalty have recently found themselves signed to Rise Above Records for their self-titled debut album, but first the four-piece present an introductory two song seven-inch EP titled Sign of Times. Is it a wise move that leaves fans wanting more, or does it fail to impress all together?

The melodic tendencies of Cathedral are definitely on display, but sometimes treading into a more Hard Rock territory. “Sign of Times” is a catchy composition with non-stop infectious hooks. Michelle’s vocals have a nice amount of range that suits the lighter sensations of the track, though the cymbals do end up sounding a bit off despite the rest of the kit sounding fine. The bass guitar, however, is almost entirely absent, and by the three minute mark it seems like the music is trying to bring in an Occult Rock vibe but never reaches it, instead stirring memories of the clean singing material of early Kittie albums, specifically the song “Charlotte” around that same three minute mark. While it’s the only thing that really sticks out negatively, it does still work well enough with the performance overall due to how it bridges the two impressive Rock themed guitar solos.

On the other side of the record is “Seven Flames,” and it has a little more bite to it in many regards. Right away a strong haunting atmosphere can be felt in the riffs and stronger bass guitar presence, not to mention the clean singing is reminiscent of The Devil’s Blood. Both elements work to bring that occult sensation “Sign of Times” didn’t quite manage to pull off to life. This is also a much tighter performance compared to “Sign of Times.” There’s a good deal of energy on display as well, helping to keep the just under five minute song move as though it were only three minutes and get your head bobbing along much of the time as well.

After countless spins through Sign of Times, it’s “Seven Flames” that stands out as the band’s first recorded crowning achievement that will make you anxious to hear what Death Penalty has in store for us with their impending self-titled debut. “Sign of Times” is far from a waste though. While it’s a catchy track that goes into the lighter side of the Doom genre, there’s just too many solid hooks that keep you engaged enough to pay attention during each spin. Death Penalty isn’t exactly Cathedral reborn, nor does it really show much influence in these songs other than some of the melodic Doom Metal traits, but fans familiar with Garry’s work or Serpentcult will find some strong music to latch onto here.

Side A:
01. Sign of Times – 5:22

Side B:
02. Seven Flames – 4:51

Initial Pressing Score: 7/10

Death Penalty
Death Penalty

Digital review copy of this release provided by Rise Above Records via Freeman Promotions.