They formed in 2011 and have a debut album called “Nature Is The Devil's Church” out now via Shaman Recordings and Burning World/Roadburn Records.
Album “Nature Is The Devil's Church” can be described as a “slab of doom” easily and with great satisfaction. With its 43 minutes this is not a monumental album at least in terms of physical length. But the album is great, indeed. It develops via an overbearing plodding rhythm which is quite gripping but may turn to monotony if in excess. There’s no such problem with this album, though, as it is well calibrated and not redundant. The album includes a short intro and four long tracks.
The short acoustic intro, “The Foolish Fire”, is driven by a simple, soft melody made of echoing touches of piano. The sound is delicate but will make you feel uneasy, like an animal sensing an earthquake to come … And soon the roaring of Doom starts with the onset of the 10.25-long track bearing the amazing title “Full Plain I See, The Devil Knows How To Row ”.
Black Magician’s doom is definitely occult and grim, especially due to the massive employment of Hammond organ. Doom here smells of crypt, of too strong incense, of sacred and blasphemy. The backbone doom melody is unfolded solemnly like the narrative of a gothic tale unfailingly endowed of an occult and dangerous event halfway between the world of humans and some other arcane temporal or space dimension. The first three minutes of the ballad are filled with the pure distilled Sabbathian growls emitted by the downtuned guitar and bass in the leading riffs, as well as with some howling guitar solos, with the pounding drums and with that amazing “voice” of the organ. Then the time comes for the flood the invocations by the occult preacher Liam.
The leading riffs are so smelling of mold and incense and so Sabbathically grim in their vibrations that they seem to be drawn straight from the necromantic roots of the British doom. The band occasionally imparts intriguing accelerations to the leading creeping aand hypnotic melody. These mid-tempo insets are so intense in their burst, or better in their rapid growth and subsequent explosion (like in the final part of the first second track) that they are able to pull your mind numbed by the buzz and drag it into a black viscous vortex …
Already in this first long track one can have a fairly good grasp of the band’s style. Several features in Black Magician’s doom recall sources of inspiration coming from the British scene. The most obvious quotation, especially but not exclusively due to Liam’s vocal style, is for Cathedral. Well, Cathedral has been such an influential presence in the UK doom scene as well as in the rest of Europe (see for example the Italian band Misty Morning) that it has rightfully become an icon for Doom with a distinct British flavour.
As a matter of fact, not only the plodding doom rhythms and the chanting style, but also the dynamic, accelerated parts of this and the other tracks in Black Magician do remind me of Cathedral in their groove-laden rocking aspects. But in Black Magician this explosive infusion of British doom is contaminated by and mixed with folk, vintage prog rock and, I guess, occult doom from outside the boundaries of the British Isles, like, for example, Reverend Bizarre, Paul Chain, … I am almost sure that Black Magician do know the cemeterial, organ-driven horror doom by Abysmal Grief as well. As a matter of fact, there is much of Abysmal Grief in this British band both for the overly morbid atmospheres as well as, and above all, for the distinct fuzzy growl of the leading monolithic riffs.
The second 10:19 minutes-long suite, “Four Thieves Vinegar”, starts in the most funereal and horror cemeterial way as possible, with the bell, the sinister calls of crows and the buzz of flies, invariably evoking or suggesting the presence of something dead and rotting … After the first touches of the bass, the fuzzy distorted riff- and keyboard melody that follows is a blend of the purest, distilled Abysmal Grief-styled horror doom (check out track Crypt of Horror in the album Misfortune by Abysmal Grief), and of Cathedral’s severe doom aggression and declamations. It’s doom smelling of stench of rotting bodies, rotting wood and flowers in an old countryside cemetery which is host to birds during the day and unholy gatherings in the night. This second dark ballad is driven by suffocating meandering riffs and Liam’s invocations, but it is closed by a spectacular, keyboard-driven, absolutely retro- horror-prog acceleration. Old-school organ-driven prog bands like Deep Purple, Lucifer’s Friend etc., as well as more recent retro-dark prog rock acts like Malombra and Wicked Minds, may easily come to mind while this last sonic vortex depicts the nasty end of the grim tale or else the wild sabbah dance at concluding the occult ceremony …
“ Of Ghosts And Their Worship ” is the shortest track of the album, slightly less than 6 minutes, and is totally acoustic. It is opened by some peaceful bird singing and the buzz of a benevolent nature and then it develops via a charming folkish melody lead by by a beautifully sounding acoustic finger-picking which is periodically backed up by Hammond organ. The melody is melancholic and only slightly sinister except when the hammond organ sound is added. This acoustic guitar (plus organ) theme is surely reminding me of acoustic Opeth of the Damnation era in sound and Pentangle’s Cruel Sister in wicked folk atmospheres … This track is so entranching and refreshing as well as so gothic, so tricky and, in its own way, evil.
And evil and grimness will not be too late … Hieratic, funerary Hammond organ sound is what brings darkness and blasphemy back with the over 15 minutes-long, final suite “Chattox”. In particular the mourning organ sound and an unusual lace-like delicate howling riff occupy the first few minutes of this suite before the duly fuzzy roaring riff charge and the menacing grunting lithany of the wicked preacher burst out. The roar of the distorted guitars is so loud that sometimes it swallows the sound of the organ and of Liam’s angry declamations.
The main body of the suite more or less follows the pattern of the previous cemeterial ballads in the sense that something different is going to happen tempo-wise towards the end. However instead of accelerations, the final part of this beautiful dark ballad hosts an achingly haunting guitar solo and experiences a progressive slowing down of the pace which suggests that the blasphemous rite is coming to an end. …
Is it dawn what is coming?
I enjoyed the blend of dark, nasty atmospheres and the glimpses of nature in Black Magician’s album. They reminded me a bit of that awesome pictorial Disney version of Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain that fascinated me so much when I was a child.
But, primarily, Black Magician hooked me by their powerful stream of basic, raw, pristine Doom, the same that haunted me when, again as a child in the early 70’s, first heard Black Sabbath. Black Magician are a young band with a huge talent expressed in this fine debut album. They are also a lucky band that met people and labels able and willing to support their talent so early in their career.
Lee Dorrian’s quotation in Liam’s vocals is so strong that it is almost shameless, or better fearless, as blind faith can be, blind faith in Doom ...
Liam has a tremendously powerful voice which is perfect for the declamatory chanting style he adopted. However I would be curious to hear his impressive voice also in a more personal chanting style, because I have the feeling that he would sound awesome … The band have already done a great work on their music by making it so close to the Masters yet quite personal. So it would be interesting to see where some further work on vocal styles would bring the band in the future. Well, this is just my opinion and my curiosity and it may not be shared by many.
Black Magician’s “Nature is the Devil’s Church” is out now through Shaman Recordings and Burning World/Roadburn Records.Shaman Recordings is providing 300 copies on sacrificial blood red (obviously ) vinyl plus digital download card, whereas Burning World is handling the CD version. The album was was recorded and mixed at Full Stack Studio and mastered by Tony Reed (just after his work on the new Saint Vitus album).
A few days ago I read that Black Magician have been added to the bill of this year’s edition of the DUBLIN DOOM DAYS Festival that will take place in a few days, on the 28th and 29th September 2012. I couldn’t be more selfishly pleased about this news as I shall be attending this awesome festival and I can’t wait to take part to Black Magician’s occult prayer sessions …
Words: Marilena Moroni
Black Magician - 'Full Plain I See, The Devil Knows How To Row' - Video
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