Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Local Love: A Look Back at The Gates of Slumber's Suffer No Guilt

For the majority of their career, The Gates of Slumber jumped back and forth between slower than molasses doom and energetic gallop-friendly traditional metal. With the exception of the instrumental interludes and the mid-tempo yet shred friendly “Dweller in The Deep,” a line seems to have been drawn on 2006’s Suffer No Guilt as the songs consist of either droning marches or Maiden-style speed runs.  While the seventy minute run time can make Suffer No Guilt an exhausting listen at times, its open display of the Indianapolis trio’s various influences makes it one of their most satisfying listens.

Though contemplating which tempo is more enjoyable will likely depend on a listener’s individual preference, the faster tracks are the easiest to get into. “Angel of Death” in particular makes for a strong start for the album as its upbeat guitar riff leads into a rough but catchy vocal delivery. However, the album’s most powerful moments come when the drums slow down and rung out chords take over. “God Wills It” may be a demanding listen at twenty minutes long, but the title track’s memorable riff and the majesty on “Riders of Doom” make them impossible to deny.

The band members’ consistent performances also keep the various styles on the album from sounding out of place with one another. The production job is cleaner and Karl Simon’s vocals aren’t as rough as they were on 2004’s …The Awakening, but his guitars have the same power and adhere to bare bones rhythms despite the tempo. In addition, drummer Chris Gordon adjusts to the changes well and bassist Jason McCash justifies the trio format by keeping the rhythms flowing during the solos.

While Suffer No Guilt could probably stand to have a few song lengths edited and an interlude or two taken out, its strong songwriting and tempo dexterity make it one of the The Gates of Slumber’s most definitive achievements. Doom fans are advised to go for The Wretch and traditional metal fans will likely find Hymns of Blood and Thunder more to their liking, but this album does make for a good go between once an overall appreciation for the band has been established.

“Angel of Death”
“Suffer No Guilt”
“Riders Of Doom”
‘Dweller In The Deep”

Monday, January 18, 2016

Local Love: Review of Apostle of Solitude's Of Woe and Wounds

Of Woe and Wounds, the third full-length album by Apostle of Solitude, is the most ambitious effort that the Indianapolis doom group has put together so far. In contrast to the experimental tracks found on Sincerest Misery and Last Sunrise, this album makes a statement of definitive purpose and the song structures have a stronger feeling of unity and completion. It may be downright accessible by doom metal standards but the depths this album reaches also make it apparent that they haven’t lightened up by any means.

While Of Woe and Wounds rarely strays from the melancholic doom template popularized by Warning and Pallbearer, the changes in the band dynamic result in a few new quirks being thrown into the mix. The addition of bassist Dan Davidson gives the rhythm section a boost on “Whore’s Wings” and recruiting Devil to Pay guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak results in extra care being put into the album’s vocal arrangements. His grungy timbre on “Lamentations of a Broken Man” makes me wish he had been more prominently featured but Charles Brown’s Reagers-style cries deliver excellent hooks on numerous occasions.

 The songs themselves also manage to cover a lot of ground in comparison to previous efforts. The pounding riffs and forlorn vocals on “Blackest Of Times” would’ve made it one of doom’s most brilliant openers if not for the “Distance And The Cold Heart” prelude while “Die Vicar Die” offers a simple but catchy hook to go along with its waltzing rhythms. Elsewhere, “Whore’s Wings” and “This Mania” aim to be the band’s fastest songs ever, “Push Mortal Coil” brings in some swing in the vein of “The Messenger,” and “Luna” just might be the band’s most downtrodden.

Apostle of Solitude has always been a band worth noting in the modern day doom scene, but their third full-length is a noteworthy achievement that should be looked into by just about any metal fan. The songwriting is much more focused and the songs have the potential to become major staples with a little more time and press behind them. The band will likely find ways to continue expanding their sound in the future but here’s hoping they’ll still live up to this standard of consistency.

“Blackest Of Times”
“Whore’s Wings”
“Die Vicar Die”
“Push Mortal Coil”