Not too long ago, you couldn’t huck a rock without hitting a drifty, smoky, fuzzy doom band directly in the marbles. Slow-bangers with stretched tunes steeped in bongwater were getting continuous front-page action, and folks who’d previously never given the style much of a whiff were suddenly lining up to catch shows and dole out bucks for 2xLPs.
Obviously excellent for exposure, and in terms of finally getting some extra scratch in the artists’ back pockets, but a little strange for any long-timers who’d grown accustomed to being able to freely cruise around venues without fear of being ass-to-elbows up against a wall. But the honeymoon’s over: Most of that front-page real estate has shifted to progressive death metal and a handful of other fancies – i.e., speed/trad collisions and darkwave/death rock infusions. Eh, it was only a matter of time. Doom is really a genre best fit for those with an innate ear for its principle edicts, and fans and bands have long been accustomed to sacrificing huge numbers in favor of staying true to a course that defies commercialization.
That’s not to say that doom has dropped off the radar entirely, of course – check out all those Windhand backpatches on your local heshers; and loads of folks consider the impending Pallbearer and Pilgrim releases as two of the year’s most anticipated albums. The dust has simply settled, and it stands to reason that the true addicts abide after the wagon-jumpers have bounced to the next trend. Which brings us directly to the doorstep of Dartmoor, England’s The Wounded Kings – precisely the sort of crew that makes it evident that they elect to cultivate the dark ‘n’ slow out of some sort of cathartic necessity, not because they eventually hope to land on Pitchfork. Consolamentum, full-length number four, finds the band continuing the course maintained for the last six years, and the results claw yet another notch in their expanding win column.
In all honesty, one glance at the cover artwork does as good a job (or better) at describing what’s in store than I could hope to achieve through any collection of words. But in the interest of giving those eyeballs a little more daily exercise, I’d summarize Consolamentum‘s overall sound as dark, meditative and notably Sabbathed, with weighty emphasis placed on a swirling, smoky atmosphere further augmented through generous use of smooth hammond organ. All the key elements are present and plowed home with conviction: Woolly, stretched riffs, loads of fried leads, and a slowly struttin’ rhythm ideally suited for evenings spent defying the face of levity in favor of being crushed beneath a gloomily woven, heavy doom swagger. Additionally, the choice to bring Sharie Neyland’s voice into the fold back in 2011 still stands as the wisest decision principle governor Steve Mills has made to date, as her presence pushes an exceedingly pleasurable collision of grit & elegance to the overall mood.
Looking for the latest trend currently blowing smoke up metal’s ever-widening ass? Best point your sights elsewhere. But if you’re a true doom dog who needs a steady fix of the good stuff in order to function, move this gem to the top of your list; Consolamentum is a prime slice of doom stubbornly rooted in hallowed tradition, just the way it’s meant to be.