Warped Cross – Rumbling Chapel Review

I’m about to drop a reality bomb on you that you’re probably already aware of; genre tags, on a collective whole, are oftentimes bullshit. Yes, I’m sure you’ve known that for ages, but when a band is characterized as a particular strain of metal, it’s either because the review writer in question needs some neat, easily identifiable box to put a band into so the listener can gauge whether or not the band is right for them, or said band is vastly stretching the idea of what they sound like to ridiculous lengths to points where the people listening go, “Dude… really?”1 Germany’s Warped Cross easily places themselves into the latter category, championing themselves as “doom metal” with their second full-length album, Rumbling Chapel, with a sound leaning towards acts like Godsmack and White Zombie. That fact alone shouldn’t derail Rumbling Chapel, though.

And, to be fair, there are some intriguing moments to be found. The intro riff to “Terminate Hate” tricks the ear into thinking that the guitarist and drummer can’t keep the beat with each other, but ends up being one of the better segments to be found on Rumbling Chapel. Elsewhere, the opening section of “The Lawfulness of the Administration” sounds like it could build into a monster of a track if it was given some better moments after the fact. Also, the drums sound absolutely thunderous and hefty, pummeling forth with power and conviction. Okay, there’s all the good.

Now, what’s wrong with Rumbling Chapel? For starters, Warped Cross doesn’t even know what they want to sound like most of the time. You’ve got Godsmacked up riffs that veer into latter-day Corrosion of Conformity territory (opener “Heart of Stone”), The Obsessed-ish songwriting that suddenly (and inexplicably) morphs into White Zombie booty-shaking goofiness (“Cold Rain Shiver”), Gygaxian rock that, for whatever reason, transforms into a bad Pantera rip-off near the end (“Over the Sea”), and a whole slew of ideas that either don’t fit, or rather they do fit, but don’t inspire anything more than navel-gazing. At the end of every song, I’m hoping and praying that a good track will come along, but as each song passes, I’m either shaking my head in disbelief, or cringing at some of the choices made.


Speaking of cringe, those vocals. Mike Mehner can best be described as a mix between Pepper Keenan (COC) and Lee Dorrian (Cathedral), but without either of their charm or talent. When he attempts to hold a scream, like near the middle of “Cold Rain Shiver,” his voice warbles uncontrollably. His cadence also needs some serious help, as he adds way too many syllables in sections of songs, like on “Over the Sea” and “Iron Fix.” Worse still, the lyrics are so painfully ESL that they either don’t make any sense (“The iron fix… IS SIX SIX SIX!” from “Iron Fix”), or rhyming words just to rhyme words (“It’s time to hate/Might get laid/do they conspire/or will get higher” from “Bite the Wire”), or eye-opening for the wrong reasons (“I want to take you/where the pussy dreams” from “Over the Sea”).2 The one-sheet their label provided was not kidding when it said that there were “partly pathetically performed vocals” on here. When your label is calling out your vocal abilities (or lack thereof), it’s time to re-evaluate your abilities and see how you can improve.

After spending days with Rumbling Chapel, I was clawing and digging for something to grab onto and enjoy at least partially. That, and I hate piling on the negative aspects of an album continuously. But Rumbling Chapel is a confusing mess hampered by poor songwriting choices, disengaging riffs, bad vocals, and horrible lyrics. It doesn’t help that it can’t decide whether it’s hard rock or doom metal, so it decided to do neither of them well at all. All it did was cause me to dig out Blind for the millionth time. Maybe Warped Cross will figure it out, but until then, avoid.

 


Rating: 1.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Labels: Black Sunset/MDD Records
Website: facebook.com/warpedcross
Releases Worldwide: February 7th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. See: Aphyxion and “melodic death metal.”
  2. To be fair, there wasn’t a lyric sheet included for review, and Mehner’s accent is so thick it makes discerning what he’s actually saying very difficult, but that’s what it sounds like to my ears.
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