I unabashedly love doom metal. You have to do a hell of a lot wrong for me to not at least give you a fighting chance. Not that there isn’t a lot of sub-par doom out there because, whoa boy, there is a ton of that. My inbox is swelling with the stuff. But when you stumble upon something extra tasty? Yeah, that’s a damn good day indeed.
That just happened recently when I tore into a record from a new force out of the Netherlands called The Spirit Cabinet. This is the stuff that pays honor to the old gods, something that should light the heart fires of those who worship at the altar of Sabbath, Candlemass, Solitude Aeternus, St. Vitus, you name it. From the opening salvo of their debut record “Hystero Epileptic Possessed” I could feel it. There was a special quality to this band, as it was clear these guys were tapping into something genuine and dark. Over the course of the six songs, that essence only grew stronger. The album is perfectly dosed, played quite well but with a raw energy, and is a damn good find for anyone who wants something that drinks from doom’s original roots.
The members of this band have a history together in other places (three of the member are former or current parts of Zwartketterij) and have forged a new pact here as The Spirit Cabinet. This group—vocalist Snake McRuffkin, guitarist Johnny Hällström, bassist Erich Vilsmeier, drummer Cromwell Fleedwood—have a command on riffs, as they are plentiful on this record, and the vocals mostly are a bellowing clean, with some grimy growls thrown in for good measure. It’s a damn satisfying record, and it’s another rock-solid entry from Van, who are knocking the hell out of us this year.
The album gets off to a raucous start on “The Black Lodge,” as the song rips wide open with riffs piling up in mountainous supply and the vocals just commanding. There’s a bit of grit to the singing, which makes this feel nasty, and the traditional doom waves rise up and knock you backward, with no choice to submit to nature. The power keeps smearing through the body of the song, with the guitars spilling forth every ounce of magic they can muster. “Credulity” has a slow-burning pace, with the singing coming in strong and confident, and the assault taking its damn time. But then things kick up, some screams enter the fray, and we hit more aggressive, mud-filled waters that dominate until the cool, mid-paced conclusion. The band even has a song named after themselves, and that one opens with a catchy waves of “ah-ah-ahhhhhhs” that are fun, and later a strong burst of guitars start chewing. Shrieks are mixed into the singing, as a riveting chorus gives the track another dose of energy, and the final minutes go back and forth from Maiden-style gallop to filthy thrashing.
“Hexenhaus” have guitars rumbling hard, with the music changing paces and faces over the first stretch. Here is really where those Candlemass comparisons can be felt, and I mean that in a really positive way, as the song charges and then heads into mystical waters. The vocals again mix between violent and majestic, as the guitars light the torches and burn their way to the end. “Ramakrishna” is immediately rougher and gruffer, especially vocally, with the music balancing fury and fantasy ideally. The singing takes on a storyteller feel, as McRuffkin later repeats the title over and over, proving easy fodder for audience sing-back in a live setting. Great track. Closer “Convulsions” bursts at the seams, with more riffs being delivered by the truckload. The vocals actually pull back a little bit, which lets the music have more of the spotlight, though later some shrieks tear a hole in everything. The track does a great job killing and maiming, as melodies rip forth and the song has a fitting fade out, leaving you gasping for air.
The Spirit Cabinet certainly do old-school doom metal great honors, and this new union is one that does a fine job standing out as special on their debut “Hystero Epileptic Possessed.” Any time a new band can come along and capture the true spirit and essence of this sound on record one is a bonus, and where they go from here is entirely up to them. No doubt darkness is ahead, as well as a great amount of killer riffs, and if anyone can complain about that, I’m sure you can find your way out.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/thespiritcabinet
To buy the album, go here: http://www.van-records.de/
For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/vanrecs