Without God – Siberian Tunes: Purple Clouds Review

It might sound strange, but I think the album that really sold doom metal to me was The Devil You Know from the Dio-led version of Black Sabbath briefly known as Heaven & Hell. I was a relatively new metal fan when that album came out in 2009, and I hadn’t yet tasted the depressing goodness of Candlemass or Solitude Aeturnus. But I knew Sabbath, and I knew Dio, making Heaven & Hell a must-listen for me. Being more accustomed to the faster genres at the time, I was blown away at just how sinister slow heavy metal music could be, and I played that record over and over in the garbage truck I was driving back then. In fact, I even blew out one of the speakers in said truck when the first big Iommi chords dropped after the soft intro to “Bible Black.” All of that to say, while I often forget that I love this style, a couple of times a year, an album comes along to stoke the dormant flame of doom in my heart. This is one of those albums.

Hailing from Russia, Without God formed back in 2008 and have released a pair of full-lengths, the last coming out in 2014. Reemerging in 2021, the band have already released a nice little EP entitled Siberian Tunes: The Green Light and have made the interesting choice to immediately follow it with related LP Siberian Tunes: Purple Clouds. Without God play a big, burly style of doom metal that manages to include a pretty large range of influences. Sabbath, Candlemass, Kyuss, Pentagram, Crowbar, Alice in Chains — I hear all of these among Purple Clouds’ varied setlist, and the band have managed to blend it all into a cohesive sound.

The record kicks off with one of its most powerful tracks, “Bad Seeds.” The song’s main riff is monolithic goodness, and the verses drop into foreboding Candlemass territory. The tortured vocals of guitarist and frontman Anton hover above the music like Johan Längquist’s did on Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, and his solo near the end of the song is just pure stoner/doom goodness. “Escape” follows and dials things down to a sludgy crawl, and “Celebration” blasts into groovier and bluesier territory. The latter really reminds me — from the vocals, to the riffs and lead technique — of Victor Griffin’s (ex-Pentagram) work in his Place of Skulls project, and that’s always a good thing in my book. “Mask” is an absolute bulldozer of a track, its sludgy crawl not leaving an ounce of hope to be found in its wake. For the epic doom purists, “Song of the Stone” sounds like it could have come straight off of a Candlemass classic or off of Crypt Sermon’s stellar debut.

There are a couple of issues, but they are minor. The band tends to lean into their influences pretty strongly, and sometimes I forgot I wasn’t actually listening to Alice in Chains (“Mask”) or Candlemass (“Song of the Stone”), etc. But when songs are as strong as these are, a bit of mimicry is easily forgivable. A couple of these tracks (“Mask” and “Not a Care”) could stand to be trimmed by a minute or so to tighten the record up, but once again, they’re strong enough to allow for a riff to be repeated a time or two too many. Anton wins VIP honors for his powerfully authentic vocals and guitar wizardry. His riffs are gargantuan, and his leads are packed with feeling — and both are helped in no small part by the record’s organic production. Each song has something great to offer, but “Bad Seeds,” “Celebration,” “Mask,” and “Song of the Stone” are particularly righteous.

Forget what you’ve heard about Russian erection interference because the grooving riffs on Siberian Tunes: Purple Clouds have aroused my doommember and left me satisfied and smiling. Without God have pole-vaulted themselves onto my doom band watchlist, and I hope I don’t have to wait another seven years to hear what they do next.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Solitude Productions
Website: facebook.com/withoutgodrussia
Releases Worldwide: September 17th, 2021

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