By Gruesome Greg
While Indianapolis is known mostly as a hick town that loves its Colts and its Pacers, it also boasts two major players in the Circle of True (Trad) Doom in Apostle of Solitude and The Gates of Slumber. The latter has gained a reputation as road warriors, having toured with Zoroaster, Pentagram and currently crisscrossing the continent with Weedeater in support of their Rise Above/Metal Blade release Hymns of Blood and Thunder. The former, formed by ex-TGOS drummer Chuck Brown, have avoided the spotlight somewhat, but garnered considerable attention in the doom metal underground with their initial offering Sincerest Misery.
I was fortunate to catch AoS at the Born Too Late II true doom fest last summer, where I managed to get my hands on said debut. A solid release, for certain, although I wasn’t impressed by it as much as those who’ve hailed it as one of last decade’s best records in the doom metal genre. That being said, I feel that Last Sunrise is a significant progression from their first effort. It seems that they’ve laid off the distortion pedal a bit, relying mainly on hauntingly clean melodies, while Brown’s vocals are clearer and crisper, his tortured cries full of emotion. In
some of the softer passages, he shows that he can really sing…
This is also a more cohesive album than Sincerest Misery, as the tracks flow together nicely, with instrumentals “Last Sunrise” and “Other Voices” helping to set the mood. And lemme tell ya, the mood isn’t a cheery one. “Letting Go of the Wheel” crawls along softly at a snail’s pace, dragging you down to the gallows before a massive guitar solo comes down and chops your head off. “Sister Cruel” packs more of a punch, things getting heavier as we move along, but maintaining the same bleak mood and atmosphere, the only more-than-mid-paced moment coming in “Frontiers of Pain” until the album’s dramatic end. (Personally, I could’ve done without the bonus tracks, a trio of cover tunes that, while competently executed, don’t suit the mood at all. I would’ve liked the album to end with the final note of “Coldest Love,” but I suppose I’m nitpicking just a tad…)
Last Sunrise is an Epicus Doomicus Metallicus opus in every sense, faux Latin be damned. One can only assume that the two gun-toting lovers on the cover were driven to their suicide pact after repeated listens on a cold February nite.