Saturday, March 5, 2016

Review of Brimstone Coven's Black Magic

Like many other bands in the 70s inspired occult rock movement, Brimstone Coven's second full-length album works through several different styles. Songs like the opening title track and "The Seers" are led by slow doom riffs, "Beyond The Astral" and "Slow Death" ride classic rock grooves, and "As We Fall" and "The Plague" take trips to more mellow dreamscapes. Everything is unified by a vintage bottom heavy production style and the expectedly diabolical lyrics delivered by vocalist "Big John" Williams.

The variety is welcome and nothing sounds out of place, but it does feel like the elements of each style tend to cancel the others out. The distant production job diminishes some of the impact that the heavier riffs aim for while the looser jams can feel somewhat stilted at times. At first, one may wonder if the band may need to focus more on certain aspects of their sound but it may just come down to a need for more charismatic musicianship.

The title track starts things off in a heavy fashion and the following songs are pleasant enough to listen to, but the second half is where things really get interesting. "Slow Death" is easily the album's biggest highlight as its bluesy Deep Purple swing brings in a great deal of energy and the rhythm section shows off some strong chops during the jams. "The Seers" and "The Eldest Tree" also do a good job of standing out thanks to their more powerful riffs and memorable vocal lines.

A greater sense of conviction would make Brimstone Coven's second full-length album a modern classic but the solid songwriting and their genre's inherent listenability still make it worth checking out. The numerous styles that are presented here give the band a lot to work with and greater potential for even more interesting efforts in the future. In the meantime, Black Magic is a safe listen for fans of all things doom and 70s rock.

"Black Magic"
"Slow Death"
"The Seers"
"The Eldest Tree"

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