Aye. Proto-doom is yet again on the menu. And Pale Divine just set the pace with their kinda weirdly mystical piece – like it or not.
The RMR deck crew is quite pleased that we finally get some sturdier fare in all things doom metal. One that reaches back to the earlier facets of this hugely grown genre. It’s just about time that things move away from the Peaceville Three, back to the roots where this all came from.
True, we got excellent fare in the Doom Death Metal universe, but real clear voice doom of the olden days is hard to find these days. That’s not to say that you won’t come across good quality with those modern bands. But often, today’s fare is so spit-and-polish and painted into the corner of political correctness that it almost sounds sanitized. Well, perhaps this is also a sign of the times, who knows really.
Stygian Crown steps right into this situation with the corniness of new-age Candlemass. Yet again, a lot of this record bears that musky smell of earlier Crypt Sermon and – to an extent – Khemmis1). Both of them are nowhere near the pioneers of the genre, of course. Yet, in style and effort, they both do their best to kinda latch on to olden times when the metal was still pure. At least that is what we like to think, right?
So, all ingredients would be there for a truly stellar record to whirl about on our turntable. A thundering tribute to the sounds from good ol’ doomster haven.
But did the band really deliver?
It will depend on how you look at things. Did Stygian Crown put some sea room between them and the modern clear voice doomsters? Absolutely they did. And that is not so difficult.
But you see, new-age Candlemass2) never quite impressed us. It sounds meaty enough, brings about a lusty beat and pretty neat croaks, true. But it doesn’t deliver any real passion in the end. Not something to really write home about.
And Stygian Crown got themselves into a similar pickle. The record serves you with a pretty sturdy slab of rocky doom, roaring riffs, and a reasonably passionate vocal delivery. With that slightly oriental flavor permeating the piece that many clear-voice doom metal bands prefer these days.
Yet, somehow, there’s just not enough power in there to really pull you along. Every track kinda trails the next on an even keel, with nothing that really got our juices flowing. And a snare drum that slowly started to annoy me more than St Anger ever did.
If anything, the record is consistent. Already the watery intro The Hall of Two Truths managed to make me scratch my head. Why on earth they did not just pour it into the follow-on Devour the Dead is beyond me. This is one of the better tracks with that slight maidenesque flavor on top of all the mystique.
Sure, Stygian Crown tried to build variation into the tune, I give them that. As in Flametongue that suddenly boars down power highway by about mid-point. Or Two Coins for the Ferryman with its pretty speedy delivery, and a bout of energetic expression that we should have had more of. Boy – it even boasts a pretty impressive solo.
But this is the exception confirming the rule, like. So, whenever Stygian Crown crack open yet another track, things get beaten into the dust. And it’s that smothering, somewhat boring drum work and Melissa Pinion‘s ever-present and somewhat monotonous roar that kills the beast. By Loki and his minions, this thing is walled so much into the ground that one has real trouble hearing the often pretty sturdy guitar work.
Well, bummer. I tried hard to squeeze some extra positive vibes out of Stygian Crown‘s debut and – somehow – give it some meaning through the means of mental powers and such. But to no avail. And this is specifically bothersome. Some of those folks are true veterans of the trade, like Rhett A. Davies who really is no newbie to the scene.
So, in the end, I found myself with a piece of background music. An assembly of tracks of much of the same muchness, clad in a robe of old-style metallics. No mean theme to hook me and no visceral pull either. And that’s sad.
But then, it’s doom after all. So there you go.
|1.||Whilst hailed as the guardians of doom metal prowess, the usual culprits of the genre really do their own thing. Their tune is a modernized version of clear voice tears and tribulation often with a hint of Heavy Metal added for spice. And don’t get me wrong, they produce great quality metal.
But it is their own thing, not really something following in the vein of the old masters. They don’t necessarily aim to ‘copy’ the early doom bands. Nor should they, because their formula works very well.
|2.||The 2019 album The Door to Doom refers.|