Sunday, November 10, 2013

... SPACE GOD RITUAL 'Eldritch Tales' (Album Review)

A band that’s rooted in traditional doom and bases its songs on horror and occult themes, mainly derived from HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos – it’s as if Space God Ritual was designed with the express intention of winning me over.

And the vintage guitar tones, simple but catchy riffs on this album certainly go a long way towards sealing the deal. The influences are obvious but awesome: Pentagram, Trouble, St. Vitus and some righteous Sabbath worship. The vocals are a bit more of a hard sell, falling in the ‘love them or hate them’ category. The primary influence is obviously Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling with some Vitus-mode Wino, but with an added nasal warble that isn’t exactly mellifluous. As with The Wizar’d, the doom band from down under, I’m personally able to take the vocals on their own terms for what they contribute to the atmosphere of primitive, subterranean doom.

Among the songs that stood out for me were ‘The Weeping’ which has some very effective soloing and a veritable prospectus of doom modes, from a loping chug to drawn-out, ominous chords. The guest female vocals (or is it the singer himself vamping it up?) on ‘Necromantic Woman’ are hilarious and put me in mind of vintage horror hostesses like Vampira. A really nice touch and I like it when horror-themed bands can throw in a little camp along with the scares. ‘Mad Alhazred’ is a most menacing and doom-laden paean to the atrocious author of that grimmest of grimoires, and the vocal style really suits this song, sounding like some crazed cultist or horrid high priest. There’s even a bit of Eric Wagner influence shining through on the keening chorus. The title track is the chthonic epic I’d hoped it would be, any hint of camp is absolutely foresworn in favour of a dark, gloomy atmosphere that makes this a real highlight and one of this years’ instant classic doom songs.

All that’s left to note are a few basics. This is Space God Ritual’s second full-length and their past releases don’t seem to have really blipped the radar outside the very innermost circle of doom metal fandom. Going by this album, the band have their act together, know their idiom inside-out and are ready to start carving out a larger slice of the doom pie. In the words of the Old Gentleman from Providence, Ia! Ia!Cthulhu fhtagn! 

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