Feb 18, 2012

Spirit Descent – Seven Chapters In A Minor ...

In 2010, I gave Spirit Descent's 'Doominion album a perfect score and I still stand by that review today, in fact, if anything I like that album even more now if that is at all possible. So now fast forward to 2012 and they have a new album out, ' Seven Chapters In A Minor' so seeing as 'Doominion' was such a perfect album in my view, where do I go with this review. Is this new album just as good? After all, when you have released the perfect album, there is nowhere left to go except downhill, right? This is one of the dilemma's us reviewers face when analyzing music and one of the reason's I hate the 10/10 rating, it leaves me no room to move for the bands next review.

In the case of 'Seven Chapters In A Minor' there are a couple of little quirks that make me want to rate this album slighty lower than its predecessor but not by much, this is still an excellent album that makes me think, this is one of the world's truly all-time great doom metal acts. Spirit Descent are not your standard doom act by any means. They have the Saint Vitus, Black Sabbath, Warning and Candlemass influences going on but there is also a traditional heavy metal element much like a Judas Priest in their sound as well. Add to that some old-school death/black metal blasts a-la Celtic Frost and you have a very colorful and diverse sounding doom metal band.

The first thing that sets them apart from most is a triple guitar attack which gives them some extra scope for guitar melodies. They have dual lead vocals as well, another element which adds some extra melodic scope and they also have a progressive rock edge along with extreme metal passages that are closer to thrash, death and black metal than doom. Make no mistake though, Spirit Descent are a complete doom band that push the epic doom approach to its maximum levels of grandeur. There are only 7 tracks on this album, 4 of which are over 8 minutes long and the shortest track is still a decent length at 5:25. There are also constant mood changes, one minute it is bleak and emotional while at other times the music is aggressive and angry. They also engage themselves in the in-between mode where they get their groove on and get seriously catchy. The album begins with 'Dawn of Mankind' which uses their big guitar attack perfectly. One guitarist is ripping crushing doom riffs while another plays a captivating melody underneath. The band set up a neck-snapping gallop while Jan Eichelbaum’s vocals soars to mesmerizing heights of vocal excellence in the classic heavy metal traditions of power and range. The song keeps switching gears in terms of both style and mood, it even takes on an Eastern flavor during one section of the track so in just seven minutes, it takes the listener on a musical adventure.

'Owner of the Fifty Names' is up next and is a real Saint Vitus meets Judas Priest kind of doom hybrid. Combining slow and slime infested doom riffing with mid-tempo passages of intensity keeps this tune moving and evolving. It is the shortest track on 'Seven Chapters In A Minor' but easily one of the most intense ..... great track. 'The Tragedy of Captain Scott' is the albums epic and centerpiece at over 14 minutes. This track gets a bit meandering at times and is the main reason this album can't get a 10/10 rating from me this time around. It has a more jamming kind of vibe to it instead of their usual precise approach but most of this track is mesmerizing still. One of this albums features are the guitar solos which are exciting, melodic and always interesting and this epic tune has some of the best leads this album has on offer.  The following track, 'Alternating Reality' has the band at their most sabbathian. Full of grooves that switch constantly, this tune keeps the listener guessing as to where it is going to go next. They are indeed masters of blending styles and this tune is a showcase for their talents in that area of songwriting ability.

'Sleeper' is one of the albums most progressive metal inspired moments but it is still jam-packed to the brim with doom-laden guitar work and epic, melodies while the next tune up, 'Love Turned to Stone' is another doom meets old-school metal hybrid and features more mid-paced galloping passages. The album then ends on another masterpiece titled 'Lamentations of the Unborn' which is another old-school blending of metallic styles whether it be sloth-like doom or faster, almost thrash metal moments that sound straight of 1984 and there you have it, almost an hours worth of schizophrenic metal that almost doesn't fit any one tag really but will appeal to doom metal fans more than anyone else. Fans of epic melodic doom like Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass will love the melodic guitar work and vocals. Extreme doom fans will love the bands more Saint Vitus inspired plod-fests, death and black metal fans should welcome the intense mid-tempo passages while the old-school, traditional heavy metal fan should find most, if not all of their songs totally head-bangable and infectious.

The production is big and meaty and the general vibe is immensely atmospheric. The real winning point though is the musicianship which is insane at times and their songwriting capabilities which are outstanding. The only let-down in 'The Tragedy of Captain Scott' which is just a bit too sprawling for its own good at times but apart from that, this is another amazing release from the band. Out on psycheDOOMelic Records. .....9.5/10

PsycheDOOMelic Records Website

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