2015 is still in its embryonic stages, but we may already have the doom album ov the year in our dirty, peasant hands. Little heralded Crypt Sermon‘s debut Out of the Garden is a veritable treasure trove of classic doom moments guaranteed to take the listener back to the good old days of the genre, before there were such things as “retro” or “occult” doom. Sounding like a merger of classic Candlemass with vintage Solitude Aeturnus, they certainly know what side their doom bread is buttered on and they milk their influences for all they’re worth over the course of the album’s modest runtime. Delivering seven cuts of high quality, engaging and non-tedious doom is no easy feat, especially for such a young band, but Crypt Sermon pulled it off with style and in the process, took me quite by surprise.
The surprise doesn’t come from the band’s style itself, which borrows extensively from early Candlemass albums like Nightfall and Ancient Dreams. Instead, it comes from how adroit they are at creating a foundation of heavy, Sabbath-flavored riffs that allow vocalist Brooks Wilson to lead the charge. As opener “Temple Doors” gets it’s girth moving forward like a ponderous stone golem, the meaty, epic-infused riffs pave the way for Wilson’s powerful mid-range, which sounds uncannily like Rob Lowe of Solitude Aeturnus mixed with Dio, and you certainly can’t argue with that combination. He has a commanding presence and when teamed with well-conceived, moody doom riffs, good things surely happen. The song is classy and full of little touches that make it a doom gem, like Wilson borrowing Dio’s classic “fool, fool” line from “Heaven and Hell.”
With the table well set, the band runs through a succession of powerful and memorable mid-tempo doom cuts like the burly, stomping “Heavy Riders” which conjures images of elephants marching inexorably into battle. The song succeeds by balancing traditional doom pacing with up-tempo moments verging on chunky thrash. On top of that it plies the listener with a great old school atmosphere – the kind that seems to have been lost since the classic doom records of the 80s. “Byzantium” shakes things up by mixing subtle Middle Eastern melodies with an Atlantean Kodex-esque epic vibe and a strong Solitude Aeturnus influence and the results grind and rumble with dignity and class.
Also of note is the regal power of “Into the Holy of the Hollies,” where Wilson stretches his vocals for some very Dio-like moments of melodic, ear-catching awesome sauce. The standout may be the odd, somewhat morbid “The Master’s Bouquet,” which has a bit of a “Stargazer” feel, but goes darker. Wilson’s vocals feel more gripping and raw here and channel a lot of emotion along with a vague sense of malice and the effect is compelling
There are no weak songs and the pacing, along with the economical 42 minute runtime, work to ensure the album never feels overlong or dull. The production isn’t the most dynamic out there, but it isn’t the kind of mix that pushes the listener away or causes ear fatigue. The guitars are heavy and loom large, the drums sound great, and the overall presentation reminds me of Candlemass‘ Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, which is a real compliment.
Obviously I dig Wilson’s vocals in a major way, and he effectively plays the role of “Doom God” Rob Lowe here, which is the type of Rob Lowe you should try to be like. He has that perfect sound and delivery for old school doom and shines on every song. Steve Jansson and James Lipczynski do a rock solid job crafting classy doom riffs loaded with emotion, as well as appropriately glum but melodious solos (the one at 3:50 on “The Master’s Bouquet” is a humdinger). The whole band is on their game here, and it’s clear they have a deep love of the classic doom era and have taken great pains to recreate it on their own terms, while being faithful to the titans that walked before them.
Crypt Sermon is the real deal, folks, and Out of the Garden is a cornucopia of memorable doom metal, as fresh as doom gets (which isn’t very, but still). If you only hear one sermon this year, make it this one, you godless heathens. It’s just so damn crypt-y!