Druids - Monument - (7.5/10)
Published on April 16, 2019
Genre:Psychedelic Doom / Progressive Metal
Druids have been around since 2008 and have already put out 4 releases since. This year finds the trio releasing their fifth album under the title of ‘Monument’ on April 19 through Kansas City’s ‘The Company Label’. Hailing from Des Moines Iowa, this is a rather convincing piece of psychedelic prog rock with a very sharp rough edge to the sound and style of playing.
Upon first contact I had with this band, I saw them labeled as a doom metal act. After a few thorough listens of ‘Monument’ I came to the conclusion that despite having a dark tone, this album in particular falls into a more psychedelic area with strong progressive influences. The songwriting is too diverse and dynamic to class into a simple doom metal category and the pace of the record is quite alert. Still, I find the way they included the dark atmosphere into the constantly shifting shapes of their music to be the centerpiece and identity of this album. I’d say it even resembles late Opeth quite a lot but stays slightly heavier, more articulate and groove oriented, and even features harsh vocals as a bonus.
Considering that there are only three people in the band would have lead me to expect less presence in the sound, but these guys can actually create a very rich soundscape from just three instruments and two voices. This is partly due to the fact that they put a lot of emphasis on properly complementing each other and also the dual vocal performance that allows for more substance to the end result. Guitarist Luke Rauch shows lots of well executed muted sections that I really enjoyed as well as vivid chord patterns and a few cleverly placed pinch harmonics in the riffing. Soloing is the highlight of the album and really adds to the personality of the sound through the sharp tone and articulate style of playing. I especially love the tremolo picking sections in the lead department. See the solo towards the end of “Mirrors of Trigon” to get a good example of the tastefully screechy nature of the solos. The prominent sound of the chunky bass sections complements the guitar nicely, at times following the same patterns but also going on its own. It’s all held together by the dynamic progressive drumming and topped with both clean singing and harsh vocals.
I was very surprised with the energy of the album and unlike most melancholic doom metal, I think ‘Druids’ would be a lot fiercer on stage and put a truly dramatic show. This music is meant to be played live. I’m also licking my fingers from the neat sound engineering that was given to the album. ‘Monument’ is definitely a winner in the psychedelic/prog department and it sure was a nice surprise for me. It may be short lived at just 28 minutes in length and sticks to the same atmosphere all the way through, but If you have an affinity for the genre you’re bound to find it pleasing.