Review by Paul Castles
If you want to know the secret behind making a blindingly brilliant doom album then Consolamentum can safely be held aloft to the dark lords as the template by which all future offerings must aspire to. This is a mesmerizing journey to both nowhere and everywhere at the same time. It touches nothing and yet it reaches out to everything. Hail The Wounded Kings!
As opening numbers go ‘Gnosis’ is a deathly journey into the abyss, plunging deeper into your soul in a desolately bleak landscape carved firmly from the sorrowful sacred desolation of Dartmoor. The intro weaves slowly through four and a half minutes of barren beauty before a steady heightening in tempo finally signals the welcome entry to the party of hypnotic chanteuse Sharie Neyland.
With an unsettling cry of ‘I saw the Devil, he made my shadows flesh’ the opening track holds you in its grip for 13 minutes but its greatness comes not simply through its admirable length but through its sheer spellbinding heaviness. ‘Gnosis’ almost drains you dry, its crushing presence weighing you down like a biblical tablet of stone thrown down by the gods. The final minute sees the intensity whipped up into a throbbing whirlwind with a spiraling guitar cutting through the mayhem.
Not all of the seven tracks on Consolamentum are quite as overwhelming as the opener, ‘Lost Bride’ almost enjoying a jaunty start before Sharie’s quivering vocals scythe through pleading achingly ‘Lost Bride reclaim your throne’. There are some softer passages to helps ease the wounds, so to speak, in the shape of the thoughtful instrumental pieces ‘Elige Magistrum’ and ‘Space Conqueror’ but it is the lengthier more substantial slices that are the Kings’ bread and butter.
Given time to grow and mature at their own pace, the songs are sculpted with great finesse and artistry, the dexterity of which becomes ever more apparent the more you play it. Title track ‘Consolamentum’ flickers into life with patches of gloomy melancholy blinking through the fog as The Wounded Kings create another opening platform bereft of joy and surrounded instead with an impenetrable coat of evil through which only the cloven-hoofed Prince of Darkness can step through. The song is a haunting atmospheric treasure reaching its transfixing climax with Sharie wailing its title over and over again. This is Sharie’s second album with The Wounded Kings since stepping away from her predominately folk background having been enticed over to the dark side by the band’s founder and driving force Steve Mills.
The band’s previous album, In the Chapel of the Black Hand, was an outstanding doom-laden bowl of merciless moans. Consolamentum is a natural progression from that and firmly nails The Wounded Kings to the top of the upturned crippled cross of UK doom. ‘The Silence’ is another sorrowful sojourn through 12 torturous minutes in which the rhythms laid down perfectly by guitarists Steve and Alex Kearney, balance with the sultry symmetry of Sharie’s spartan delivery. Bassist Al Eliadis and drummer Myke Heath ensure the doom-mometre never drops below high with their incessant weighty labours as on the closing ‘Sacrifice’ a mystical monolith that pounds away for two minutes, slowly lowering the curtain on one of the finest albums – doom or otherwise – you’re likely to come across this year.
The album was produced by Chris Fielding (Electric Wizard) and apparently wrapped up in under a week spent holed up in a studio in the Cornish countryside. All involved with Consolamentum have achieved their collective goal of creating a doom album of almost painful heaviness at times but at the same time one crying out with sincerity. You don’t just listen to Consolamentum, you let it devour you.
9 out of 10
- Lost Bride
- Elige Magistrum
- Space Conqueror
- The Silence