Review Summary: Satan's coming 'round the bend.
Ireland’s Dread Sovereign have been crawling around the underground lair of metal since 2013, at which point their EP, entitled “Pray to the Devil in Man”
, was unleashed. Containing four songs of their subsequent debut album, “All Hell’s Martyrs”
, Dread Sovereign began to abandon whichever cave they were lurking in and exposed themselves to the world in all their esoteric glory as people beheld the manifestation that stood before them. The form took the shape of a ritualistic, mysterious pit of grief with a profound worship towards the gods of old: Black Sabbath, Pentagram and Saint Vitus.
With darkness as their ally, Dread Sovereign prepares to unleash a sophomore album that took a mere six days to record. “For Doom The Bell Tolls”
continues to present their amalgamation of doomy despair and dimensional space rock. However, this time round Dread Sovereign focus even more on building darker, impenetrable soundscapes that ooze atmosphere. Essentially, “For Doom The Bell Tolls”
would be more suited to an EP format considering there are only three core songs; two remaining tracks are instrumentals and the final is a cover track.
Rather fittingly, the opening sounds to this doom album are church bells on the title track. They chime out eerily amongst the hazy samples of cawing crows observing the landscape where the wind howls around every forlorn corner. Already, Dread Sovereign establishes the tone, atmosphere and mood for the devouring atmosphere this album resonates. As the hour strikes midnight, Dread Sovereign slithers into a sluggish pace of sliding guitars and listless bass. This minimalistic approach allows the songs to increase the hefty tangibility as Nemtheanga (Primordial) wails his distinctive, woeful cries of devotion to Satan. Standing at 13 minutes, the minimalism makes ‘Twelve Bells Toll in Salem’ an endurance test even to hardened drone fans and it’s only at the 8-minute mark where the monotonous atmosphere breaks into Bones’ quivering extensive guitar solo.
‘Draped in Sepulchral Fog’ and ‘The Spines of Saturn’ follow a similar structure to the aforementioned tracks. The former acting as another short introduction that sets the scene but relying on an uncomfortable buzzing synthesiser and, once again, tolling bells. However, the latter doesn’t flow directly from the former. Instead, it morphs into fully fledged space rock meets doom metal. The song features a strong bass line and hazy vocals which materialise beneath a thick cowl of spacey synthesiser. This chosen effect, however, has its fallbacks. The bleak, bottom-heavy production has clearly been utilised to induce an old-school nostalgia trip but it completely drowns out the dimensional riffs and layered drums.
“For Doom the Bell Tolls”
isn’t just a dark, lethargic acid trip. Influences from bands such as Sleep and Electric Wizard are conjured during ‘This World Is Doomed’ that affirm Dread Sovereign understand the importance of riffs within doom metal that their forefathers first founded. Their murky take on these Iommi-flavoured riffs, however, gives the band a gritty, menacing aesthetic similar to the likes of Celtic Frost.
In conclusion, Dread Sovereign’s nature of drifting from epic doom metal to space rock and back to old school rock n roll makes “For Whom The Bell Tolls”
a untamed offering to Lucifer. While the atmosphere is certainly tangible, the poor production is what most people will remember this album for. Mercifully, the cover of Venom’s “Live like an Angel, Die like a Devil” closes the album, one which taps into occultism and tells a tale of a witch who is sentenced to hanging, in a suitably sacrilegious manner.