Doomocracy - Visions & Creatures of Imagination - (8.5/10)
Published on June 10, 2017
Wasn’t it the Greeks who first introduced the notion of government? Sure, that might have been an oligarchy, but it led to other things, one of them being democracy. And what is democracy exactly? Well, since you ask, it is a form of government in which the power is vested in the people. Now, answer this question, metalhead: if every metal subgenre were a politician and only one could be chosen as the leader of our scene, would you vote for epic doom metal? Would you vote against epic doom metal? Quite honestly, would anyone vote against epic doom metal? As a candidate for supremacy, bands like Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus just about have it all, since few civilians could argue with the crushing riffs, bruising heaviness, emotional vocals, soaring leads and melodies, or the grand scope of those giants.
Doomocracy are from Crete, which isn’t a world away from mainland Greece, and make another compelling argument for epic doom metal taking a prominent position in the hierarchy of metal. Visions & Creatures of Imagination is the second album from the five-piece and certainly sets out a persuasive set of policies. There are certain very clear references to Solitude Aeturnus in particular, the album boasting strong vocals courtesy of Michael Stavrakakis that shrill and bend like Robert Lowe’s did on albums such as Through the Darkest Hour. Rhythmically, there is a familiar feel from the mostly slow beats jazzed up by Minas Vasilakis, while the bass creaks around the more extroverted guitars like a nagging parent. The pair of guitarists do their best work in the second half of songs when they begin to create sumptuous leads and flashy licks, notwithstanding some elaborate detailing in the verses of “Lucid Plains of Ra”. The riff work manages to strike a balance between bruisingly heavy and intricately atmospheric at times, though there are also moments when a little more could be wished for from that department, not least when some rather pedestrian chugs emerge on “Ghosts of the Past”.
The mention of atmosphere should be a cause for the populace to start fingering their ballot papers in anticipation. Never all about heaviness, this kind of epic doom is at its best when it makes you feel as well as nod slowly and seriously, something that happens on several occasions here. “Lucid Plains of Ra” is the first example to arrive, introducing the body of the song with a curious, ghosting waft of Egyptian air that carries its legacy into the verses, adding a more powerful argument to middling guitars. Likewise, closing song “A Taste of Absinthe” possesses a captivating quiet introduction that wrestles with the listener’s memory as we attempt to detect the source of the pleasing déjà vu.
There are hooks too, so this isn’t all soapbox rhetoric and no substance. The melodic counterparts to some of the riffs do a great job of bringing the guitars to the fore and contrast the more crushing slow riffs, on which count the production helps, since it keeps the lead guitars light and airy but renders the rhythm instruments the thundering opposite. “One with Pain” proves a worthy centrepiece to the album, immense riffs grinding along before driving its chorus one notch deeper into your brain with each desperate repetition, while the title track more than earns its position by virtue of its decisive energy and audacious vocal performance.
There are elements to like about every song and every musician plays his part; however, it might have been prudent for the band to leave some light between them and their influences. The shadow of those names mentioned at the start of this review hangs oppressively over every riff and vocal line, meaning that nothing can be viewed as fresh or groundbreaking, merely enjoyable in its own right. Additionally, in the epic doom party, there are also some that believe in the benefit of progressive policies such as using pace to alter the dynamic of songs and give an album greater variation. Doomocracy do not cater for these voters on Visions & Creatures of Imagination, plugging away at a workmanlike slow or medium ebb and rarely increasing the excitement by sudden transitions. The stately lope of chugging riffs brings the songs more gravity, though the drama could certainly be heightened with a fuller range of tropes.
All in all, there isn’t much wrong with Doomocracy’s campaign. They have definitely studied the theories of past great leaders and organize their own songs according to the principals of Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass, meaning they should have the confidence of the electorate. For 2017, this is probably about the best that epic doom has to offer. Cast your vote now.