Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Dom Dracul - Cold Grave (2016)

I've been probing the underground lately for 'roots' black metal done right, that is to say bands I might never have heard before putting a fresh spin on a genre I still enjoy to this day, despite it's clear level of over saturation. The hunt has turned up some really amazing results so far, like Swedes Bränd Jord, and another act I had set my curiosity on is a one-man project called Dom Dracul, whose covers give off a vibe of primary and purism akin to maybe Craft, Darkthrone or Black Witchery. Therramon, the individual responsible for this project, certainly does not betray the aesthetic on Cold Grave, a record that was released simultaneously with another in his catalog called Devil Dedication.

A really solid setup here, with eerie and tinny sounding guitar melodies set to the sounds of wailing, screaming and a slow, beating drum, but then he doesn't really knock it out of the park with the riff that launches "Mighty Winter", a fairly predictable chord pattern that is only given some levity by the mechanistic cold created by the beat patterns. The song takes a turn later with a more glorious and less evil bridge riff that gives off a more folksy, pagan impression, and this sort of creates a blueprint for how most of the tunes on the album proceed. Bold if standard black rasping over a sequence of 2-3 riffs that, while catchy enough to thrive in the record's dim, airy atmosphere, don't exactly thrill, nor do they sound unusual or off the cuff enough to really demand a listener's attention when they've been schooled in so much of the genre prior.

That's not to say I didn't occasionally enjoy a bridge or a breakdown here like the melodies of "Sons of the North United", or that evil lick in "Blackened Sight", but most of the tracks just needed a fraction more tweaking and ambition to stick in the brain. I'd also state that Therramon does create enough variety in the riff choices so the album doesn't become a dullard. Some won't like the drum presence that much, which reverts to a mere phantom against the backdrop to support the obvious focuses of vocals and riffs, but I felt more of a lack in the bass department. Some groovier, morbid lines that deviated from the rhythm guitar could have put a murkier, psychedelic twist on even these guitar progressions that would have left more of a mark. All told, though, even if Cold Grave is not an album I'm like to reach for over many others in its field, I did think it was a competent stab at the sort of 'back to basics' vibe I was seeking, and I dug the production overall.

Verdict: Indifference [6.75/10]


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