I always find it a little weird when metal bands call their shows “live rituals,” and as times goes on, more and more groups are doing this. I mean, they’re shows. Right? I guess bands see their craft as being something as an offertory thing so some force or another, but I always see them as ust shows. No offense, everyone.
Yet, when I hear English doom metal band The Wounded Kings, I start to change my mind a bit about that whole ritual concept. Their music doesn’t just sound like slowly delivered, occult-driving doom that many other bands work in these days. Their songs always sound like something more, something darker, something far more evil and sinister. That’s especially been the case since vocalist Sharie Neyland joined the fold and added her powerful, mesmerizing voice to the band’s caldron of murk. Her first work with the band on 2011’s awesome “In the Chapel of the Black Hand” gave us an initial idea of just how special she could be fronting The Wounded Kings, but with the arrival of their new, fourth record “Consolamentum” (their first for Candlelight Records) that promise has been delivered like a ton of bricks. She is the bonafide star of this band (not to take away from the rest of the members, who we’ll discuss momentarily), and every word that drips from her mouth entrances and chills. She’s an awesome force who has very few legitimate peers in the doom metal world.
As noted, the rest of the band certainly lifts this band up as well and do a fantastic job keeping this dripping in horror and spookiness. Alan Kearney handles guitars, as does Steve Mills, who also adds piano and organ to the mix and is the one member who has been around since the beginning of the band. Al Eliadis handles the low end on bass, and quite capably might I add, while Mike Heath rounds out the lineup on drums. There definitely is a sense of Black Sabbath, Cathedral, and St. Vitus to what this band does, so you’re getting a nice dose of the traditional sounds, but they also could play along fellow modern artists such as Electric Wizard, Windhand, and Occultation and fit right into the mix. That is, if they don’t overshadow all of those bands.
The record opens with the 13:20-long epic “Gnosis,” a track that unfurls slowly and with a purpose, conjuring magic and slow-simmering sounds in the first few minutes, then unleashing molten guitars and crunch, with Neyland finally making her first appearance nearly five minutes into the cut. She sees the devil, battles “temptation and desire,” and delivers that imagery like it’s literally happening as she sings. The song stays on pace and keep telling its tale until the final minute when the band kicks up the pace and crushes to the finish. “Lost Bride” is flat-out chilling, feeling like a song that could be pulled from an old 1950s, black-and-white horror film, with Neyland calling, “I am yours, and you are mine,” in a voice so icily detached, she sounds as if in a trance. The melodies are sweeping, the punishment righteous, and it’s a song that’ll easily capture your imagination. “Elige Magistrum” is an interlude that brings the first half to a close with smoking guitar work that practically coats your lungs.
The title track, all 9:08 of it, kicks off the second portion of the record, fading in from the darkness and hitting on tasty guitar riffs and organs that set the mood and keep you from entering the light. “How long must we wait before the dark?” Neyland asks, as the band goes from doomy mauling into acoustic guitars, more heavy, goth-style organs, and a wave of emotion that grips. “Space Conqueror” is a cool cosmic western instrumental that moves into “The Silence,” a 12:14 scorcher that opens with a slow-driving pace and some of the more interesting melodies on the record. Neyland sings of “genocide on a dark mountainside,” letting you know immediately this will be bloody, while the band hits on long stretches of haunting doom that boils and drones, sets a suffocating atmosphere, and pulls you through the night. Organs are resurrected in the last few minutes of the song, everything washes out into space, and then the band returns to the surface with melodic hammering, heart-wrenching vocals that’ll leave your jaw dropped, and a fantastic psychedelic finish. Closer “Sacrifice” is an instrumental outro with solemn passages, strong guitar work, and freezing sentiments that work as the perfect finish for this amazing record.
We have had a lot of great doom metal the past few years, so much so that we all should feel thankful and fortunate that we’ve been blessed with such a bounty. That said, The Wounded Kings have come in and re-established themselves as one of the leaders, and with their new association with Candlelight, they should reach a much larger audience that they definitely deserve. “Consolamentum” is a major coming-out party for an otherworldly vocal talent like Neyland, and for an incredible doom force like The Wounded Kings. If you’re a fan of this style of music, do not hesitate to put down money for the vinyl (its proper medium) and let this thing totally entrance you. No way you’ll regret the investment in such an incredible document.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/thewoundedkings
To buy the album, go here: https://www.manicmusiconline.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.candlelightrecordsusa.com/