November In Metal, Part I: Tiamat, Doro and Void Moon
Tiamat has always been one of the more interesting metal bands around thanks to the fact that you never really know what you’re going to get. The Swedish band released their their first record in 1990 which was a primitive death metal record, then going through their career, they’ve mixed metal, rock, goth, pop and probably fifteen other styles together. The point is, every album could be different and each one is an adventure unto its own.
The Scarred People is in fact probably not metal at all. It’s as metal as Killing Joke is. It’s influence is based in heavy music but ends up being more of a rock album. In fact, it’s a goth album quite similar to the radio ready goth from the late ’80s and early ’90s. The album is dark and complex and yet still somehow uplifting. It’s probably the album Celtic Frost should have made when they failed with Cold Lake.
The arrangements are what really stand out on the record. Varying between upbeat rock (“Winter Dawn”) and extreme darkness (the screams in “384EKteis” are haunting) there’s orchestral elements present either via a string section or keyboards throughout the disc that provide some pretty grand accents to some already fantastic songs.
Whether you shut your eyes and sway to the epic and powerful “Messinian Letter” or throw your fists in the air to the catchy title track, The Scarred People is simply perfection in a grand package.
At this point in her career, what intro does Doro need? She’s a 48 year old goddess of true metal. Whether it be with Warlock or with her dozen+ solo records, she’s stayed true to her love, pure, hard rockin’ heavy fucking metal. She’s earned every bit of acclaim given to her over the years. She wears leather and chains and is a Thai boxer. Now that’s a badass chick for ya.
Simply because she still loves that very traditional metal sound, she’ll be loved more outside of the US than she will be here. However, probably moreso than any other artist making similar music, she definitely still has her fanbase in the States and her albums get consistently released here as well.
Although I’m a Doro fan, even I can admit that there isn’t exactly much variation from one record to the next, so the 2-disc greatest hits from July is probably enough for casual listeners. For fans though, she’s still rocking strong with tracks like “Raise Your Fist In the Air,” “Take No Prisoner” and “Little Headbanger.” Doro also likes doing duets with other singers so it’s always something I look forward to when hearing a new record from her. Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of this one, a ballad called “It Still Hurts” with Lemmy. For me, Lemmy singing a ballad is a total misuse of an iconic and instantly recognizable voice (that is not made for singing anything softly). Though, you can look at the other side too and praise them for having Lemmy stepping out of his comfort zone.
My only real issue with Raise Your Fist is that it’s too long. It’s 13 tracks that feel like 30. The US version could have done without the German “Engel” and “Freiheit” which are back-to-back in the middle of the disc and for someone that doesn’t speak German, it kind of kills the vibe a bit. It’s still a decent record though, which clearly shows that she has no intention of slowing down anytime soon.
After a couple of demos and an EP in 2010, Sweden’s Void Moon are releasing their first LP. Their painstakingly slow brand of doom definitely worships at the alter of classic bands such as Black Sabbath and Candlemass. The latter is actually a comparison for me that fits nicely, as with Candlemass the music was always there but my enjoyment of their records was always about the vocalist. Messiah Marcolin was a great fit for the band’s style while I never really liked listening to Robert Lowe in the context of their tunes.
For the most part, Void Moon has a good musical base but I’m just not a fan of singer Jonas Gustavsson’s voice on most tunes. He’s at his best on the heavier tunes where his voice fits nicely with the rock element but most of the album moves like quicksand and I just don’t think he has the vocal chops to croon like he needs to. There are certainly some musical oddities as well, mostly with the drumming. I often found myself wondering if someone in the studio mixed up the drum tracks in post-production. “The Word and the Abyss” is a great example where within what is sort of a progressive style breakdown, the drumming is just in a different time altogether. And while that’s that worst case on the record, there are other moments where Thomas Hedlund just seems to want to do too damn much with the kit as if he’s bored by the basics needed to make the record work.
On the Blackest of Nights is an interesting starting point for the band, one that has its moments but not quite enough of them to make listening essential just yet. Potential, though. Sure.
Albums currently on the potential ten best of 2012 list:
Baroness, Yellow & Green
Christian Mistress, Possession
Denial of God, Death and the Beyond
Deserted Fear, My Empire
Forgotten Tomb, …and Don’t Deliver Us From Evil
Goatwhore, Blood for the Master
Human Toilet, Human Toilet
Jorn, Bring Heavy Rock To the Land
Mongrels Cross, The Sins of Aquarius
OSI, Fire Make Thunder
Satanic Bloodspraying, At the Mercy of Satan
Terrorizer, Hordes of Chaos
Tiamat, The Scarred People
Ufomammut, Oro: Opus Alter
Ufomammut, Oro: Opus Primum
Winterfylleth, The Threnody of Triumph
Woods of Ypres, Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light