By Gruesome Greg
The third album by this Pittsburgh doom-crew might not be hotly anticipated across the country, but lemme tell ya, I was pretty stoked when it landed in my inbox. Its predecessor, Boldly Strides the Doomed, received a 9 outta 10 from yours truly and even cracked my year-end top 10 in 2011—at number three, no less. Fans of Candlemass, Trouble and even Iron Maiden, take note.
Album number three begins with “By Endurance We Conquer,” which sounds like something straight outta the mouth of Schwarzenegger (as Conan, natch). But this number doesn’t immediately crush its enemies, taking a slow buildup towards a brisk power-metal gallop, with some doomy breakdowns thrown in for good measure. The chorus will totally wanna make you raise a horn of mead or something—in fact, it really reminds me of Maiden.
Second song “No Peace Beyond the Line” brings the doom from the get-go with a great melodic riff that would make Leif Edling proud. From there it’s a slightly slower stomp, accentuated with some chugging guitar riffs, which beget more Maidenesque dual leads. “The Hands of Time Are Bleeding” is the first true doomy number, albeit not without a coupla time changes, the band picking up the pace for some speedy breakdowns before slowing back down for the verse, eventually ending on a powerful power-metal note with an epic chorus.
“The Coward’s Path” is one of just two somewhat lengthy tunes, at seven-and-a-half minutes. It’s also undoubtedly the doomiest (although the instrumental title track comes close), the band bringing down the hammer with some hefty melodic downstrokes. Verses initially take a simplified, minimalist approach, a light guitar touch beneath Butch’s operatic-style vocals. But then the full band kicks in as the screams come, and this is pretty much melodic doom at its finest, eventually picking up the pace with a classic-metal gallop in the late stages. Twas tunes in a similar vein (ie “Devils, Devils,” “The Damnation of John Faustus”) that drew me in on the band’s debut, and it’s good to hear that they still bring the doom.
Call this power-doom if thou wilt, but they’re definitely more power, less doom this time around. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
(Cruz Del Sur)
Beyond the Martyrs will be released October 1st on Cruz Del Sur