Review Summary: Sexy, bluesy, Sabbathy, catchy, female vocals doom metal that begs a sing along.
Doom metal isn't the most exciting subgenre. People rarely make a fuss over more albums of plodding tempos, monotonous riffs and bellowing growls. Doom metal is a challenge to make without boring your listeners. Belfry is an exciting and fresh doom metal album, even though its components are unoriginal, the sum of its parts is a great work of art.
Look at the album cover. It's a cool photo, a black and white shot of a lonely clock tower in a lake. Did Messa want to pay homage to Opeth's Morningrise artwork" It looks grim as *** and it gave me totally the wrong expectations. This is not horrible, slow, torturous blackened doom album #34123354 as you might expect from such a bleak cover. The drippy kvlt band logo and the 4 mins intro of pointless ambient droning are also misleading. A vintage 70s rock style cover would have been more appropriate.
Belfry is unabashed Sabbath worship. That's fine, we all love Sabbath and there's loads of great Sabbath rip-off albums and bands out there and I hope many more to come. The opening riff of the album is blatant Sabbath plagiarism and I have no problem with that because it's satisfying as heck. Following the opening riff we get the first shock coming: female vocals.
I'm rarely a fan of female vocals. Female vocals in metal are usually shrill, operatic and cringey. Kylesa's discography and Cult of Luna's Mariner are exceptions to this, and so is Messa's Belfry. Messa's singer delivers powerful, bluesy and, dare I say catchy, vocal hooks over brilliant Sabbathy riffs. The album is packed with unpredictable moments like sudden shifts in dynamics and emotions, as well as the tempo occasionally rising to a headbanging Symptom of the Universe pace. Belfry is full of nice surprises like the wailing clarinet solo 1/2 way through. Think Radiohead's The National Anthem.
The songs are catchy and the production is masterful. Accessible doom metal hasn't been done this well since classic Candlemass. Belfry is set to be doom metal album of the year.
Oh Lord, it's a new dawn a-rising
Skip to 4:35 unless you enjoy pointless ambience: https://www.youtube.com/watch"v=3wcWnQBlOy4