DREAD SOVEREIGN is the side project of Alan Nemtheanga (PRIMORDIAL) where he branches out, picks up a bass and decides to have a go at something a bit different. The band features Con Ri on Drums (CONAN, KRAWWL, MALTHUSIAN) and Bones on guitar (ex-DE NOVISSIMIS).
I went into this album expecting something akin to outtakes from the last PRIMORDIAL release, and in hindsight that was a bad move. It’s not like that at all, only one song comes close and even then to consider it in that way is a great disservice to the music and the artist. But let’s discuss that one first.
The Great Beast We Serve is perhaps the best gateway into this band for those that are coming from Nemtheanga’s previous work. OK, it lacks the wall of sound that features in so many of PRIMORDIAL’s more notable tracks but the vocals are similar enough that you could slip it into a playlist and only the most attentive fan would notice. To some degree, what makes a band a band is not just the style they play or the lyrical themes, it runs deeper than that. Gone are the grand lines that resonate like a preacher shouting hellfire and instead a more organic delivery takes its place. The vocals are not afraid to be present while taking a backseat to the instrumentation and that’s really cool. It feels more intimate than Nemtheanga’s previous work.
Nature Is The Devil’s Church leans heavily towards VENOM in its style. It’s a lot closer to rock n’ roll than most contemporary doom and black metal. It’s polished but it feels raw, like there is an idea that is so close to fruition and that makes it really exciting to listen to. An infectious groove coupled with one of the best guitar solos I’ve heard in some time make this my favourite song on the album.
One thing I didn’t expect when I went into this is just how doom-laden some of the tracks would be. Take She Wolves Of The Savage Season which channels the spirit of CANDLEMASS in its almost laid back approach. It’s verging on atmospheric and it’s definitely a bit curious. I think it shows that this release is an experiment in trying new things and taking new chances.
In total it’s a fun ride that should feel disjointed but somehow does not. I went back and listened to their previous full release in the writing of this review and it’s safe to say that I now consider myself a fan. Lyrically it’s a departure from the rigidity and formality of PRIMORDIAL and the instrumentation leans more towards a few friends having a jam together but I think it works really well.
I’d like to see them edge in the direction of bands like AHAB and maybe even PELICAN but if they remain where they are currently I’m not going to complain. Check it out if you like any of the bands I’ve mentioned in this review.
Words: Jacob McCrone
Alchemical Warfare will be released tomorrow via Metal Blade Records.