Review Summary: An incredible doom metal album with plenty of crushing, heavy riffs and a dark claustrophobic atmosphere
This is quite a difficult review to write as there isn’t really a lot that separates ‘In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend’ from the hordes of other doom metal bands. However, despite doing little new, the quality of what they do play towers above that of most other doom.
Everything that epitomises doom metal is present here: painfully slow tempos, down tuned guitars, heavy crushing riffs and extended song-lengths. What separates ‘In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend’ from other similar doom bands is the incredibly dark, oppressive atmosphere. It just sounds more well, doomy, than other traditional doom. The atmosphere is quite similar to (but arguably even better than) that created by that of Thorr's Hammer
, but this manages to create the gloomy atmosphere without the help of death metal growls, as everything here except one small hardly noticeable point in ‘Doomsower’ is sung clearly.
The music is much slower than that of the band’s traditional doom peers like Candlemass
and Solitude Aeturnus
, but not too slow to become at all boring. It is still accessible enough to be easy to listen to all the way through despite it’s long running length of an hour and a quarter. The music is gripping and at times could even be described as ‘catchy’. The slow tempo puts a large emphasis on every single note making each and every one of them sound completely important and powerful. The drumming is fantastic, keeping the music interesting while also retaining the bleak and melancholy mood, with plenty of inventive drum fills and rolls. The bass, played by the vocalist, also plays a prominent role in the album with equally inventive bass-lines adding to the drums perfectly.
The music is very simple, but complexity is not necessary at all here. If it were more complex it would probably ruin the atmosphere. This simplicity is taken to extremes on the album’s last track, ‘Cirith Ungol’, which runs it’s entire 21 minute length on a few simple riffs and ponderous drumming but never gets boring because of the strong atmosphere that is easy to get completely lost in.
‘In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend’ really shines during the faster-paced sections where it retains a similar atmosphere but at the same time sounds much more energetic. It is really no surprise that 2 of the best songs, ‘In the Rectory’ and ‘Sodoma Sunrise’ feature these sections. These parts keep the music from getting stale and give it more variety from the otherwise constant bombardment of crushing guitar riffs, so it is a pity these parts are few and far between. This is only a minor complaint however, and isn’t really that noticeable. Guitar solos are also nearly completely absent, with most of the music staying at a very low pitch.
Vocalist Reverend Witchfinder doesn’t have the range and can’t quite pull of the ‘epic’ soaring vocal style of acclaimed doom metal singers like Messiah Marcolin but he doesn’t really need to for the atmosphere of the music. His singing is low in the mix, buried under the heavy guitars as if it is trapped underneath, really contributing brilliantly to the claustrophobic atmosphere. At times it does sound like he is trying to go for a similar vocal style to the aforementioned Messiah Marcolin but doesn’t manage it, though he usually keeps the singing more restrained. Reverend Witchfinder does however have a decent enough range and sings in quite a few different styles, sometimes almost shouting the lyrics and as earlier mentioned at one point even growling them in a death metal style, as well as singing in a typical melodramatic doom metal fashion. The lyrics are well written but can be quite cheesy, if you hadn’t worked out from the song titles like ‘Cirith Ungol’ and ‘Burn in Hell!’.
Overall, this is an incredible doom metal album, but probably too intense for those new to the genre. Fans of doom will love it, but those new to the genre would probably find Candlemass
or Solitude Aeturnus
a more accessible introduction.