Doomocracy – Unorthodox Review

Epic doom is a much-beloved genre for yours Steely, but it’s a very challenging one to pull off properly. Balancing doom and traditional metal while imparting an epic flavor can be a tricky proposition for even the most talented band, and it’s far too easy for things to fall into cheddar and shame with the slightest misstep. For every glorious Atlantean Kodex victory, there are several crushing defeats out there where heroic sagas flop harder than that 300 lb. gent at the annual drunken bellyflop tournament. That brings us to Doomocracy and their third album, Unorthodox. Hailing from the Greek island of Crete, these Hellenic metal warriors had escaped my notice completely until now. What they do slots into the Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, and Memory Garden mold with a greater leaning into the “epic” space and a concept about religious persecution in the 1500s. This means things are kept highly polished and regal, and much like Memory Garden, there’s a strong underpinning of traditional metal with just a hint of power metal as well. Can Doomocracy walk the walk and talk the epic doom talk? Let us poll the polis.

First things first, the band is very tight, talented, and capable of nailing the epic doom sound. On first proper track “Eternally Lost” they show a slight prog inclination on what is a very effective epic doom piece highly reminiscent of Solitude Aeturnus and Memory Garden. Michael Stavrakakis sometimes sounds like a young Rob Lowe, but more often like Memory Garden’s Stefan Berglund, and he teams well with the elegant and tastefully grandiose guitar work that feels like it came from the 90s power doom days. “Prelude to the Apocalypse” is like something off CandlemassChapter VI and is awash with refined doom with stunning guitar work and melody aplenty. “The Spiritualist” is especially glossy, cultivated, and Candlemassive and could have appeared on any of Leif Edling’s early platters and fit right in.

My personal favorite arrives with “Novum Dogma” which carries the strong scent of vintage Memento Mori with a mild Tad Morose seasoning adding extra spice. It’s very stately and exalted while also highly catchy. This is exactly the kind of melodic epic doom I love and they hit all the right notes for a stunner. There are no bad moments on Unorthodox, though the highly charged and emotion-packed closer “Catharsis” doesn’t enthrall quite as deeply as I wish it would for some reason. It’s a dynamic song full of pathos but I just don’t seem to fully connect with it. The spoken word interludes that dot the album support the album’s concept but they’re a bit overdone and too theatrical, sometimes verging on cheesy. The 47-plus-minute runtime is pretty much ideal for a doom album and doesn’t feel too long or stretched out. The production by Simon Johansson and former Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Candlemass, and Memento Mori guitar god Mike Wead is crisp, clear, and spacious, allowing all the technical chops to be appreciated. Wead also adds a solo on the closer for extra doom power.

The guitar play from Angelos Tzanis and Harry Dokos is a huge part of what makes Doomocracy a success. Their style is heavily reminiscent of the 90s power doom movement and there’s more than a little King Diamond influence in their playing as well. This means a lot of crunchy riffs decorated with all sorts of melodic beautification and puffery, and it totally works. Everything they do is graceful and distinguished but they manage to keep enough heft in the riffs to ground the material in doom. Michael Stavrakakis is a gifted vocalist with good power and range and he pairs well with the decorous guitar work. He can get a bit overdramatic in his delivery and sometimes oversing, but for the most part, he does what the material and style require and does it very well. Minas Vasilakis also deserves props for a powerful and varied turn behind the kit. You’ll find yourself drawn to what he is doing quite often as the album moves from epic to epic.

Unorthodox is impressive enough to make me question how I overlooked Doomocracy before landing this promo. If you love Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus, you’ll be right at home here and this strikes me as a great companion piece to Memory Garden’s 1349 release from last year. This is a happy surprise as 2022 winds down into list season, and this could just be worthy of inclusion in there somewhere. Recommended finery for fine folk.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: No Remorse
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: November 11th, 2022

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