I rather enjoyed Dread Sovereign’s debut EP and subsequent full length album.
So it was with great anticipation that I listened to the trio’s new album, with its rejuvinated lineup.
Unlike a lot of Doom bands out there today, Dread Sovereign haven’t neglected the metal part of Doom metal.
They’re a proper Heavy Metal band, rather than an excuse to compensate lazy song writing with a wall of Orange amps and band names like “Bong Wizard” or whatever.
It’s clear that the high level of quality that was present on the group’s earlier output is also evident here.
The subject matter on this record remains fairly traditional Doom fare, with tales of Religious persecution and Satan. But, as you’d expect, there’s actual engagement with the subjects at hand and a historical backbone to Alan Averill’s lyrics which really counts for something.
So it’s immediately better than the usual fayre whose only inspiration is a couple of British horror movies from the early ‘70s.
Opening track ‘Twelve Bells Toll in Salem’ tackles the familiar topic of the Witch trials during the 17th century and suitably evokes a feeling of dread in the listener when lesser bands might have turned the subject matter into a kitschy romp.
Religious persecution is indeed a serious business don’t you know?
‘This World is Doomed’ is a rousing and mostly-up tempo number and from the blast of lead guitar early on you know you’re in for something special here.
The lyrical message of “the world is fucked, so have another drink” Is something Lemmy would have been proud of, and is both timely and timeless in its message.
It’s worth noting that a lot of this record is pretty up tempo in its nature and this is something I think is worth drawing attention to. Look at any of the classic 80s Doom bands and you’ll notice that a lot of their output wasn’t all snail’s paced.
A little bit of variation in tempos never did anyone any harm after all, and it’s one of the defining developments of the band’s sound on this outing.
It’s tempting to look at “For Doom the Bell Tolls” as an exercise in how to do Doom or Heavy metal the right way, and even the band’s decision to cover the Venom classic ‘Live Like an Angel (Die like a Devil)’ reflects this.
Many dismiss Venom; but the influence of the 3 beer swilling rock ‘n’ rollers from Newcastle who haplessly managed to influence a countless magnitude of bands looms large.
Whilst the band is primarily Averill’s baby, special mention should be given to guitarist Bones whose ghostly sense of melody and often thrilling lead work really elevates these songs to another level.
And new(ish) drummer Johnny King performs admirably behind the kit whilst filling some rather large shoes.
‘For Doom the Bell Tools’ is an excellent record that should see the band gain great acclaim and dispel any talk that this is a mere side project. Doom Metal done the right way with songs to back it up. Recommended.
4/5 – Tom Andrew ::: 27/02/17