Sometimes one gets lucky when promo sump diving and finds an unheralded gem. Other times you need to be guided toward one by a knowing compatriot. It was our very own Roquentin that drew my attention to Finnish doomsters The Lone Madman by playing me a sample of their debut Let the Night Come. Very impressed was I, and that brings us here. With nary but a single and an EP to their name, The Lone Madman is not a band on people’s lips, but that may be changing soon. Their debut finds them toiling in long-form epic doom compositions borrowing from the best of Candlemass, Crypt Sermon and Fvneral Fvkk, while slipping in progressive and stoner elements in smart ways. At times they remind me of King Goat in their hodge-podge of influences and how they manage to successfully incorporate them all into an epic doom construct. In short, doom fans best sit up and pay attention.
With an album clocking in at just under 43 minutes composed of a mere 4 songs, you know lengths will be prodigious and the pace will be unhurried. That can and has worked against many a band, and I admit on the first few spins the sheer length of the songs felt excessive. However, with a bit of patience they began to make sense and really took hold of my brain-stem to give it a firm doom shake. The opening title track plays right into all my favorite doom tropes with heavy riffs slowly building toward arcane ends. There’s a huge Candlemass feel to the opening minutes and the doom riffs feel righteously ominous. Once Turkka Inkilä’s vocals arrive his warm tone grabs you, pulling you deeper into the piece. As the song ambles forward slowly it becomes apparent the band isn’t content to follow the standard Candlemass blueprint. The music is much more loose and exploratory, at times sounding like Lake of Tears wrote sections of it and slipped them in when no one was looking. Over the song’s eleven minutes you’re gifted with various moods and genre influences, yet it all works together for an impressive slab o ‘ tonnage. “Downfall” ups the epic part of the sound with chest-thumping Visigoth influences taking center stage as tales of thrones won and usurped spill across another 11-plus minute time frame like a deposed liege’s blood. I hear more than a few nods to the best moments of Primordial‘s material here and that’s obviously a good thing. Could a few minutes be cut from both songs? Absolutely, but even with the excessive lengths the songs are really good and the band’s riffs and transitions keep the songs moving well.
The album standout is “Häxan” which is one of my Song o’ the Year candidates and the one Roquentin used to hook me on the band. It’s a simple doom tune at its core with straightforward heavy riffs, and Turkka’s commanding vocals make you pay close attention. That attention is rewarded as the song progresses and things get increasingly weird and proggy, until out of left field Turkka busts forth with an insane flute solo that blows the song’s doors off. As the shortest cut, it’s also the most addicting and the monster riffs even echo Triptykon at times. Three of the songs here are very good, and though “House of Mourning” is good, it’s the weakest, the longest and also the album closer, so that partially undercuts the album’s overall impression. Three of the four songs could also use some degree of trimming and clipping as well. I don’t mind the song lengths now that I’ve marinated in the album deeply, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be made all the sharper through judicious editing.
I’m a fan of Turkka Inkilä’s vocals. He sounds like a cross between Saint Vitus‘ Scott Reagers and Crypt Sermon‘s Brooks Wilson and he really knows how to make a doom song shake and bake. At times he seems to drift out of key1 but for the most part he nails it. He and Juuso Raunio bring the thunder with a succession of memorable, powerful doom riffs that drag you along for the lengthy rides. The band especially deserves credit for incorporating so many other influences into what seems a simplistic style at first blush. There’s stoner and occult rock elements at work, as well as post-metal and post-rock woven through the material, and it’s all done smartly and seamlessly.
All this is to say The Lone Madman have crafted a surprisingly mature and impressive debut sure to draw the attention of doom hounds. Check out Let the Night Come and allow the songs time to grow and you’ll be a believer. I’m very interested to see what these young upstarts do next, because this is doom with room to develop.