Church of Void // Dead Rising
Rating: 2.5/5.0 — It’s the rise and fall…
Label: Svart Records
Websites: churchofvoid.com/Church_Of_Void | myspace.com/churchofvoid
Release Dates: Out worldwide on 08.30.2013
Church of Void is a young upstart Finnish doom band, but they like to bill themselves as the spearhead of the “new wave of traditional heavy doom metal.” While that might be putting the cart before the dead horse quite a bit for an obscure band, I admire their hyperbole and moxie. Featuring former members of Battlelore and Horna, they play a slightly amorphous style of doom that skips between 70s Sabbath worshipping acts like Orchid and Hour of 13, modern doom like Katatonia and even stoner rock like Monster Magnet. While I respect their attempts to shift sounds and styles, their writing isn’t always up to the challenge and at times things feel disjointed, confused and dull. This prevents their Dead Rising debut from ever getting into a groove and flow. Still, the band has ability and the core of an interesting, compelling sound and when it all comes together, they sound great and produce winning tunes that allow the listener to play “spot the influence.”
Things open with the very straight-ahead doom rock of “Tristess” which borrows a lot from Witchfinder General. It’s simple, enjoyable and fairly energetic for doom. The band keeps this style going during “Son of a Witch,” but introduces a few slower, moody segments that smack of post-rock and it works well enough. Things get more offbeat with “Winter is Coming” which mashes the rock sensibility of Monster Magnet with the doom of Saint Vitus and the epic weirdness of Cirith Ungol. The result is surprisingly coherent, the album highpoint and suggests these guys may be a band to watch in the future. Though it has a rudimentary lead riff that screams stoner rock, it morphs and twists into classic doom and the journey is a trip. Other interesting moments come during the rowdy, Hour of 13-like rock of “The Magician” and the Katatonia and Rapture inflected “Entity of Kalypso.”
Later on, they toy with blending doom, doom-rock and black metal during the epic length title track and while there are cool ideas, things ultimately get too scattered and fractured and by the 3/4 mark, the writing wanders off the reservation along with my attention. Other numbers never get off the ground at all like “Owls are Listening” which is plenty moody, but feels flat from start to finish. The lengthy “Little Lost Child” dabbles in a light version of funeral doom and while I like some of the riffs and overall mood, the song drags on far too long and eventually becomes a really bad Monster Magnet tune.
The main issue here is that even the decent tunes don’t grab you by the throat (with the exception of “Winter’s Coming”). They’re solid enough and have a cool riff here or nice vocal there, but they all border right on the hated Territory of Meh. While doom isn’t the most dynamic of mediums, the songs still need to be memorable or it’s just a bunch of slow shit with no particular purpose.
The riffs from Adolf Darkschneider (best moniker eva!) and Georgios Funeral are often by-the-book doom plodders, but they wisely spice things up with post-rock ideas and influences from Insomnium and Rapture pop up a bunch as well. I wouldn’t say they’re in the vanguard of a new style or movement, but at least they try to mix in new ideas with their traditional sounds. The vocals by Magnus Corvis consist of a one trick pony mid-range whine and while he isn’t a bad singer per se, he doesn’t do much to impact the listener or elevate the music. He’s one of those singers that’s just there and though he sounds like a cross between Dave Wyndorf (Monster Magnet) and Wino (Saint Vitus), he lacks the appeal and charimsa of both.
I wanted to like Dead Rising more than I do. It’s just not a fully fleshed out album. I see the potential, I hear some good things and it does grow some, but this is a band that needs more time in the incubator. Someday these guys may develop the chops to match their “spearhead” braggadocio, but today they’re stuck in the middle of the doom pack.