Desolate Realm – Desolate Realm Review

My thirst for epic doom has largely gone unslaked for too long now. I got a satisfying morsel of it with Servants to the Tide‘s debut, but it merely served to arouse my appetite without bedding it back down properly. Now desperate, I stumble upon another 2-man epic doom project, this one called Desolate Realm and composed of 2 members of Finnish death metal act Decaying. The promo package speaks of allegiance to Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus, but their eponymous debut offers way harder, meaner stuff, closer to The Gates of Slumber and Argus. It’s all about rough, bellowed vocals and burly, jack hammering riffs, as if Pantera veered off their powerlifting metal kick following Vulgar Display of Power and decided to dabble in doom. Call it aggro-doom or epic biker doom, but by any name it kicks ass and I’m fully on board the meathead train to Latsville with a jug of whey protein in one hand and a warhammer in the other. War 4 gainz!

As soon as opening cut “Spire” kicks off you know what kind of mettle this twosome bring to the melee. Heavy, crunching riffs power along faster than doom should as Matias Nastolin delivers tales of battle and glory in a rough-hewed, raspy bellow. It reminds me of both Sumerlands and the super mega obscure Kryst the Conqueror and that alone makes me a fan. When taking breaks from ball-busting battle riffs, the guitar-work veers into Manilla Road and Cirth Ungol territory with some highly traditional melodies and solos, and things became more epic as the song rolls along. “Beneath the Surface” hits like a runaway cement ruck with huge riffage and a weighty mid-tempo rumble. There’s something about this song with resonates with me and I can’t stop replaying it. I especially like how it grows in scope and grandeur on the back-half, finishing majestically without losing its killer edge.

There’s a great deal of quality and consistency from track to track. “Crypt” mines all sorts of doom gold as it hints at Crypt Sermon and Solitude Aeturnus influences, and the combination of Sumerlands-esque riffs and King Diamond approved falsettos feels very right. “Reckoning” may be my favorite, packing more vintage metal attitude than can easily be weighed and measured. It sounds like a lost Visigoth song and the mighty riffs make me want to throw anvils at the untrve and sic my war hound on the splattered remnants. The clean, baritone vocals on the back-end conjure the ghost of Manilla Road‘s Mark “the Shark” Shelton and it’s a surprisingly poignant moment. There are no bad songs, and even the 8-plus minute closer “Tormented Souls” holds interest and entertainment value throughout its runtime. At a tight 45 minutes, this is an easy spin and I’ve been spinning and re-spinning it above and beyond what’s required for review purposes. Downsides? Perhaps greater use of clean vocals would have been a nice touch, and more forays into classic doom via hefty slow-mo sections would’ve added spice to the proceedings as well. These are minor complaints though as what we get is pretty righteous as is.

Mr. Nastolin handles vocals along with guitar and bass and I’m quite impressed by his efforts. I’m familiar with him as a death metal vocalist/guitarist and I’ve appreciated Decaying over the years, but he shows a very different side here. His guitar-work is heavily rooted in 80s traditional and trve metal and it’s clear he knows the era well. His framing of the songs riff-wise is compelling and he mixes aggressive, punchy leads with stirring harmonies very well. There’s an old timey sheen to the material yet things still feel modern and fresh at the same time. Vocally he gets the job done too, effectively utilizing rough sing/shout/roars in the vein of Orange Goblin‘s Ben Ward while mixing in wild falsettos I would never have guessed him capable of. Olli Törrönen does a good job handling drums, finding that epic doom groove and sitting in the pocket smartly as things get more aggressive. For a two-man act these chaps bring a lot of power and punch. The song writing is especially good and sometimes great, with no song feeling like filler.

Albums like Desolate Realm are the best part of reviewing. You go in with no expectations and get slapped upside the head by a little gem. Desolate Realm have provided epic doom with a heavy dose of bull testosterone, and this in turn has caused me to spiral off into an Orange Goblin/The Gates of Slumber binge I hadn’t bargained for. If you want a doom opus that’ll help get your fat ass to the gym, this is the golden ticket to swoleness. Go heavy doom or go home.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Release
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 23rd, 2021

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