Dread Sovereign – “For Doom The Bell Tolls” (Ván Records)
The triumvirate of Alan Averill Nemtheanga and Simon ‘Sol Dubh’ O’Laoghaire from Primordial joined by Bones (Wizards of Firetop Mountain) on guitar, Dread Sovereign made their powerful presence felt close to 3 years ago with their debut “All Hell’s Martyrs”. Now comes the follow up and despite the tongue in cheek title, pretty much takes off from its predecessor, but if anything, is even more powerfully atmospheric. Although rooted in the old school doom of Saint Vitus that also incorporated psychedelic elements, it equally draws from the proto heavy metal of Cirith Ungol, and naturally features the spirited emotion of Primordial – quite a combination I’m sure you’ll agree! The excellent mix on this 6 track album allows plenty of room for all the instruments, and despite being a trio, there aren’t any noticeable gaps or hollows that one might expect. Nemtheanga’s impassioned voice remains as expected, adding a fiery contrast to his rough hewn bass while O’Laoghaire’s drums take a dull, primitive sound that while ever present seem (intentionally) in the backdrop. Bones’s guitar here is what makes the difference: dishing out the doom a plenty while equally content to solo and warble in ode to heavy metal, elsewhere offering psy sounds but all the time ever present in its dark embrace – superb! Together, Dread Sovereign’s superior, veteran talent allows them to take on a range of doom styles from the shamanic Hawkwind like psych of ‘The Spines of Saturn’ while epically bringing to life (or death?) the haunting, musty doom of the 13 minute ‘Twelve Bells Toll In Salem’, completed by distant church bells ringing in the wind to Bones’s tripped out guitar – like I said, incredibly atmospheric!! Interspersed by ambient passages like ‘Draped In Sepulchral Fog’ the album flows harmoniously, taking you in possessively, until the rude awakening of the final track, a cover of Venom’s ‘Live Like An Angel, Die Like A Devil’ – a humble reminder perhaps that Dread Sovereign aren’t here to re-invent the wheel but just to give it a good kicking in fine style!