Dread Sovereign - For Doom the Bell Tolls - (7/10)
Published on January 24, 2017
So, Ireland’s doom metal trio Dread Sovereign finally return to the fold with the follow up to their 2014 effort entitled For Doom the Bell Tolls, and is the next logical step in progression of the Dublin doom leviathan fronted by the ever industrious Alan Nemtheanga. With All Hell’s Martyr’s the band showed brief glimpses of their experimentation with psychedelia woven throughout their sermon of St. Vitus influenced Doom on the likes of “Cthulu Opiate Haze”, but it was only that, a minor experimentation really, but here on For Doom the Bell Tolls it appears the band have decided to bring this further to the forefront to the point it’s so significant you couldn’t really class them as just traditional doom any more, certainly not on this release anyway.
First proper track “Twelve Bells Toll in Salem” certainly begins in the more traditional Doom vein, very Vitus like, and is an absolute devastating monolith of a track, but it isn’t long before the noisy space rock influences begin to show their head, and just over halfway it transforms into a complete washed-out, drifting cyclone of pure psychedelic noise. Alan’s vocals are as animated and emotive as ever, his wailing “I am the dread sovereign…” coupled with that filthy, colossal thundering bass just threatens to pull the world crumbling down around you.
One of the first things that struck me about this album was how similar the production is to The Devil’s Blood The Thousand Fold Epicentre. Listening to “This World is Doomed”, which begins in a very traditional doom sense, the similarity in production to The Devil’s Blood is very noticeable throughout the whole song, especially in the long scuzzy, drawn out hazy guitar passages, so in other words you have that sweeping feedback drenched pedal abuse of Hawkwind, just with a shinier production. “The Spines of Saturn” is probably the best example of their new sound, in fact you couldn’t really call this doom at all this track really, Alan’s vocals have a heavy distorted reverb effect on them, the guitar sweeps and swirls enveloping everything in a noisy hypnotic Hawkwind-esque haze all the while building up to a climax. The guitar playing is excellent here, and Alan’s vocals on the first two tracks just as dramatic and baroque as ever. Closing up the album we have a cover of Venom classic “Live Like an Angel, Die Like a Devil”, a complete change of pace to the rest of the album (as you’d expect), which while a welcome blast of energy, does feel more than slightly out of place.
For Doom the Bell Tolls certainly won’t be for everyone, doom purists may well turn their noses up at it, which is kind of ridiculous to be honest as the likes of St. Vitus, Pentagram and even Witchfinder General themselves were psychedelic in their own way. The main gripe to me is it feels more like an EP than a legitimate full length release, and once you factor out the intro, the interlude “Draped in Sepulchral Fog” and the Venom cover it is only three proper tracks really, of which from these guys being brutally honest you’d expect a bit more. There are periods where it seems they’re holding something back, or it just never quite develops with the intensity you expect it to, nevertheless what is on showcase here on these three tracks is impressive enough if nothing exceptional. It is a real slow burner this album, and took a long time for me to get my feet cemented into it and immersed in the thick noxious smog of doom and noise, admittedly the first time it went completely over my head, but it is absolutely a grower of a release, so give it time. Just a shame it’s altogether so short.