One of the finest doom albums of the year
Review by Paul Castles
Release date: 5 October 2015
You don’t necessarily have to possess the detective powers of Inspector Morse to know that this review is of a doom record. Let’s look at the evidence before us. The album is called Doomsday, yep, there’s your first clue. And the label releasing it is Doomanoid. Mmmm, a pattern emerging here, don’t you think? And if you know your stuff then you’ll certainly recognise the name of Iron Void, perpetrators of some of the most heavily melancholic laments to come out of Yorkshire since the early halcyon days of bands such as Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride.
This is the trio’s second full length release and their first on Doomanoid. It also carries what thesedays amounts for a kind of Doom MOT certificate having been recorded at Skyhammer Studios under the authoritative gaze of Chris Fielding. Their debut album recently enjoyed a vinyl release party at the Birmingham Asylum (reviewed here). On that night only one track from Doomsday got a look-in. When Jonathan ‘Sealey’ Seale (vocals), Steve Wilson (guitar) and Damien Park (drums) return to the same Birmingham venue later this month – along with King Heavy – it will be the new stuff that takes centre stage.
So that should make for a great night as Doomsday will resonate in spades with anyone who gorges themselves on a diet of Sabbath shaped doom. There’s a delicious moment at the very start taken from the Planet of the Apes movie when Charlton Heston whispers, “It’s Doomsday!” before the menacing opening track slowly stirs with all the urgency of someone visiting the dentist to have a tooth yanked out. Ponderously paced but certainly not ponderous in presentation, it’s a scintillating opener with a chunky bass throbbing reassuringly throughout. At one point it shudders to a near standstill before the rhythm is released and Sealey’s smooth tones deliver the final ‘welcome to Doomsday’ harmony.
There’s a nice 70s thread woven into the opening few moments of ‘Path to Self Destruction’ but this song, all about the booze, soon takes a dramatic turn. This time Steve takes the mic, ‘you’re on the path to self destruction’ he warns. Again there is a restless energy that just refuses to be tamed. A great sweeping riff, a methodical but powerful drum support, and a fuzzed-up groove that triggers all the lights in your brain. Iron Void, as is often their way, ramp it up with an even headier hallucinogenic closing section, doom at its incurable best. But while doom lies at the very heart of what Iron Void are all about musically they’re not afraid to challenge and diversify. Some of these songs are far too musically uplifting such as on the feisty ‘The Devil’s Daughter’ and rampant ‘The Gates of Hell’ to be placed alongside more sombre sounds created by the likes of Pallbearer and Bell Witch. And while the dark arts inevitably cast their deathly shadow across much of what Doomsday is about it’s not as overtly black as something like Blood Ceremony or Jex Thoth.
‘Lost Faith’ is a darker piece while ‘Colosseum’ is another steeped in traditional doom values, a heavy throbbing rhythm which eventually assimilates into some irascible guitar riffs. You just know these guys are having fun, with Sealey unnervingly singing ‘into the arena of death’ a homage to the gladiators…’here you will draw your last breath’. ‘Fire Nerve’ is another that sounds almost too upbeat to be lazily thrown in the cauldron of doom inhabited by so many bands at present. It’s indulgent riff is so infectious you’d need to be sporting a neckbrace not to headbang your approval while Sealey’s silky tones add an extra layer of warmth. Ending with ‘Upon the Mountain’, a song which you can almost visualise Sabbath playing, brings Doomsday to a slow and satisfying conclusion. To call this one of the finest doom albums of the year does not really do it justice.
9 out of 10
- Path to Self Destruction
- The Devil’s Daughter
- Lost Faith
- The Gates of Hell
- Eye for an Eye
- The Answer Unknown
- Fire Nerve
- King of Utopia
- Upon the Mountain