Brimstone Coven Black Magic 2016Oh, Ghost… what have you brought upon us? Since the masked Swedes hit paydirt with their patented brand of Scooby-Doobie Doom™ via Opus Eponymous back in 2010, there’s been an influx of retro-rockin’ stoner doom bands looking to drive their own Mystery Machines™ over well-navigated roads. Granted, for each one that wows us, there are several more that we wish would just go away. Wheeling, West Virginia’s Brimstone Coven are a relatively young band, having only formed just four years ago, but here I am with the band’s third album, Black Magic. Is this a strong enough album to send our favorite groovy ghoulies packing?

Not quite. Mind you, you wouldn’t know it from the opening title track. The groove set by drummer Justin Wood, bassist Andrew D’Cagna, and guitarist Corey Roth harkens back to early Black Sabbath while dipping their toes slightly into Pentragram‘s waters. Strengthening the vibe is “Big John” Williams’ voice, reminding me a bit of Bobby Liebling (Pentagram) with a little bit of Ozzy thrown in. Once the chorus hits, though, you’re left with a big surprise in the form of three-part vocal harmonies between Williams, D’Cagna, and Roth. All three are capable vocalists who compliment each other nicely, and set quite a tone for the song. It doesn’t hurt that the transitions between riffs are as smooth as blood-red silk, ebbing and flowing with ease.

The good doomy vibes continue on through Black Magic‘s next four tracks. “Beyond the Astral” is a good blend of Sabbath and The Doors, aided by the silky-smooth voice of Williams. “Black Unicorn” has a bit of Jimi Hendrix in its urgency and drive. “Upon the Mountain” plods along at a murky crawl, once again elevated by those beautiful vocal harmonies. But things hit a bump in the road on Black Magic‘s second half, where a strong sense of deja-vu hits and hits hard. Another problem is the placement of songs. “The Plague” and “Forsaken,” two very slow, lumbering numbers, are back-to-back, dragging the album down significantly. So much so that, by the time that album closer “The Eldest Tree” rolls around, I’m already nodding off, and it’s not from the stoner vibe from the album.

Brimstone Coven - Band 2016Produced by D’Cagna at Sacred Sound Studios in Ohio, Black Magic sounds warm and robust, even with an average dynamic range score of 7. The bass is full and pulsating, the guitar has just enough treble and mid-range to cut through the thick drums, and all three vocalists sound great on here. I just wish the songs would grab me a bit better on the second half of the album, as the first half contains some rather heavy, incredibly-played retro-doom with some serious heft. The songs could also shorten a bit for better impact, as the album feels much longer than its 54-minute run time.

But I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy parts of Black Magic. There is some Satanic charm to be found here, and the vocal harmonies are pretty damn good. Maybe with some editing, Brimstone Coven will be on to something. As it is, I will keep an eye out for their next one.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: v0 mp3
Label: Metal Blade Records
Websites: brimstonecoven.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/brimstonecoven
Releases Worldwide: January 29th, 2016

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  • You wot m8?

    That loud base is a welcome change from the BM or DM base buried beneath seventeen layers of sound clips and incomprehensible growling.

  • Man this is just good ol’ fashioned southern doom. Ghost ain’t got nuthin to do wit it. Blame Pentagram for releasing albums like Be Forewarned in 1994 that sound like they were recorded in 1974.

  • “Scoobie Doobie Doom”

    You win.

    • Pedro Morini Mietto

      I already rank this as a top 10 TM of the year. And there’s no thing as “too many lists”.

    • William Hebblewhite

      And they would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for you meddling kids

  • Diego Molero

    How does the realese dates work? I meam, why are there so many albums coming out on January 29th for example? And they are not even of the same label

    • Kronos

      For whatever reason a huge number come out tomorrow. I think publishers are getting all the January releases out late in the month to let the dust settle after list season.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Lots of goodies coming out tomorrow. Christmas in late January!

      • Diego Molero

        That seems like a logical reason

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Most music albums are released on fridays. I think it probably is because of how Billboard/Soudscan charts work. Not that it matters much to Metal, but I guess record labels adhere to the rule of mostly releasing their albums on fridays.

  • Mico the Cat

    Lol, I guess I’m a proud member of the Scoobie-Doobie Doom fan club /thumps chest/. All the articles on AMG are very informative, and of course a great read :)

    Can’t wait for tomorrow to listen to Brimstone’s awesome three-part vocals.

  • Andy_0

    The music is fine, I guess. I just want this fad to be over.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    No, no, no, Grymm. It’s “Good” not “3.0/5.0”! Get with the times, man!

    • You are a silly, silly man.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        Says the gorilla. ;)

        • I’m a highly evolved Viking gorilla.

          • You wot m8?

            I wonder what Varg would say to that…

  • Barney9

    Very cool band.

  • aaron bergman

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they played Free Bird as an encore. I am enjoying this a lot because it reminds me of so much of the Southern rock I used to listen to. I think they chose the Satan angle because pudgy guys love to wear robes.

  • Diego Molero

    If you liked this then you should check Witchcraft – Nucleus, a similar vibe and really good

  • OzanCan

    Oh yes! Seriously, my kinda metal I need nowadays! Thanks Grymm m/

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I get the Ghost relation in a “campy horror” sense, but the music sounds nothing alike, this is more Stoner Doom than Satanic Pop with Doom sprinkles.

  • Kinda meh, for me. Interested to see what they do with the next one.

  • Óðinn

    Thanks, Grymm.