The Return Of Doom And Gloom
Asked to name the gloomiest city in America, one’s first thought wouldn’t be Indianapolis. Yet it has spawned one of the most depressing bands around in The Gates Of Slumber. With no sign of slowing down after a decade of doom, they bring us their fifth full-length release, The Wretch.
Opening track “Bastards Born,” an ominous dirge worthy of Candlemass, sets the stage perfectly for frontman Karl Simon’s meandering yet agile guitar work. Things pick up a touch on “The Scovrge Ov Drunkenness” and “To The Rack With Them,” bringing the pace to “death march” before grinding back down on “Day Of Farewell,” a contemplation of suicide and showcase for Jason McCash’s fuzzy bass lines.
The standout track here is definitely “Coven Of Cain,” a Black Sabbath-inspired swinger featuring a supremely catchy guitar melody and intimidating vocal rasps, both courtesy of Simon. Finally, closing out the album is the epic “Iron And Fire,” a 13-minute symphonic sludge factory anchored by the pummeling drum grooves of J. Clyde Paradis.
Sonically, The Wretch owes much to the doom movement of the ’80s and ’90s. The vocals are way out front and unprocessed, the guitars are a bit muddy, the bass is unfailingly distorted, and the bass drum has more punch than bass. It’s also appropriately lacking in overdubs. Whenever Karl Simon takes a solo, McCash and Paradis support him, without the “studio rhythm guitar” that has become so commonplace. It brings to mind the works of Pantera, and it’s wonderfully refreshing. Taken together, these elements create a supremely satisfying listening experience.
Doom metal is what it is: slow, mystical, and depressing. Going too far outside the box would rob the music of its appeal, and The Gates of Slumber understand that perfectly. Fans of the band will definitely want to pick this up, as will fans of doom pioneers like Pentagram, Saint Vitus, and Candlemass. If you’re looking for high-energy, feel-good music, this is not the place.