Dread Sovereign – “Alchemical Warfare” (Metal Blade Records)
Battle Helm Rating
If cacophony be thy game, then “Alchemical Warfare” be thy name! Heading into their 3rd full length studio album in just 8 years, Dread Sovereign’s evolution has been just as rapid. Formed by Primordial’s Alan Averill (aka Nemtheanga) along with guitarist Eion H (aka Bones), debut “All Hell’s Martyr’s” featured some of the best psychedelic doom from the Emerald Isle, while follow up “For Doom The Bell Tolls” added proto metal into its ever-enshrouding dark embrace. Now, on “Alchemical Warfare”, Nemtheanga’s pagan lust is abound in enlisting the primitive savagery of Venom and Hellhammer to add yet another visceral dimension to Dread Sovereign! Fittingly joined by drummer Johnny King (Conan, Abaddon Incarnate, Krawwl, DOS etc), the sound is, as you might expect, mighty. From Averill’s own ever-in-torment pagan vocals to his roughly hewn bass, Bones adds his intense mish mash of psych, doom, noise, metal and just about everything in between along with King’s barrage, together laying waste to the nine gripping tracks all played with an intense passion stoked by the legacy of legendary power trios. That said, this is Alan Averill you’re talking about, a man of no mindless persuasion, and as such the material is as deep and historically factual in both its subtleties and overt aggression as expressed through an impressive range of tracks from the-minute-long ambiance of ‘Viral Tomb’ to the ten minutes of bass booming, guitar wailing doom death of the epic ‘She Wolves Of The Savage Season’. But I like my meat blood red raw, so the lure of ‘Devil’s Bane’, ever a worthy a contender for the bastard spawn from “Welcome To Hell”, proved irresistible especially given superbly arranged alternating tempos, abundant pagan melodies flowing from Bone’s guitar and spirited wails exuding Nemtheanga’s soul, all of which added the Dread Sovereign mark to this early black metal blueprint in superb fashion. Even more overpowering was ‘Ruin Upon The Temple Mount’ through its captivating atmosphere driven by dark basslines and even more haunting guitars, not forgetting King’s pagan thudding percussion, all of which crept over you for over half of the song’s near nine-minute duration before bellowing out in full avant-garde mode à la Celtic Frost with Nemtheanga mixing pagan wails with bestial roars and blasphemous spewings – unbelievable! Culminating in the riotous ‘You Don’t Move Me (I Don’t Give A Fuck)’ , it’s like Cronos, Mantas and Abaddon got an unhealthy punk possession from all their Satanic rantings, as fast rumbling bass, anarchic vocals, out of control guitars and stampeding drums bring a climatic, and certainly anarchic, cacophonous ending to this incredible release – as Nemtheanga says ‘… if it’s the end of days we might as well go out with middle fingers raised right?…’, and that’s just what you get as you know that Alan Averill is a man that likes to tickle your mind.