I caught this Baltimore-based band last year at Days of Darkness, where they opened the first day of the festival—a few of their female-fronted doom tunes reminded me of early Blood Ceremony. And yet, while keyboardist Jess Kamen’s vocals feature prominently on nearly all of the six songs on Act One, they are not strictly a female-fronted outfit. It would appear that the way to stand out in a sea of samey sounding “female fronted occult doom” outfits is to add male vocals to the mix. Who knew?
This might well be the doom debut album of the year
“Dead Water” kicks things off, a seven-minute traditional doom tune with some heavy keyboard accents that gets my head nodding right off the bat. The vocals are light and airy, but suit the galloping backdrop nicely. And yes, they even have an eerie keyboard solo, as well. Starting around the six-minute mark, we get a male/female vocal trade-off on what might be considered the chorus, ending the song on a high note.
Singer/guitarist Bob Sweeney takes the lead on “The Toll,” although you could almost call it a duet. This one also picks up the pace a bit into mid-tempo territory on the chorus, but the verses are still extremely doomy. “For Shame” is a decent mid-paced jaunt, more Deep Purple than Black Sabbath, with more prominent male vocals, culminating in a hooky, doomy chorus. Nice male/female trade-off on this one, too.
On that note, the opening keyboard riff brings “Highway Star” to mind, but they actually slow things down on a bit of a plodding number that wouldn’t sound out of place on Royal Thunder’s first album (you know, the good one). “Deuces Low” is more up-tempo, with a bouncing beat and catchy chorus that could almost be considered radio friendly—but what kinda radio station plays this kinda music anymore?
“Hollowed” ends things on a more epic note, a female-fronted cross between vintage Maiden and Candlemass. This might well be the doom debut album of the year, right here.