Speaking of doom metal comebacks… Ogre, kings of the Portland doom scene (Portland, Maine, that is) have returned with their fifth album, roughly five and a half years after its predecessor, The Last Neanderthal. I have been a fan since I first heard their 2008 “last-ever” album, Plague of the Planet – or more precisely, portions of it played live at a Rochester doom fest in 2009. Despite the large gap between recent releases, suffice to say the doom scene is better off with this trio than without them.
Thrice as Strong gets off to a jaunty start with “The Future,” channelling the mystical, magical output of Pagan Altar…particularly in the vocal department. (Not that the guy from Magic Circle did a bad job on their last tour, but Ogre’s Ed Cunningham is pretty much the perfect replacement for Terry Jones!) The proto-doom machine rolls on with “Hive Mind,” an uptempo, boogie rocker that falls somewhere between Mountain and (non-instrumental) Earthless, albeit not without its own doomy, heavy breakdowns. “Big Man” throws another heavy 70’s riff out there, with more of a gritty, bluesy, ZZ Top feel – fuzzy guitars not included.
“Judgement Day” chugs along like a Mel Gibson biker movie, with a doomy stomping section that starts around the 3:30 mark. The eight-and-a-half-minute “Blood of Winter” slows things down significantly, wallowing in the gloomy tempos of a Saint Vitus, before picking up the pace to a steady gallop around the five-minute mark…not unlike an early Saint Vitus. ?
The opening bassline of “King of the Wood” is very reminiscent of “Dragonaut,” and while it takes a slightly different turn from there, this tune is still pretty slow ‘n Sleepy. “Cyber-Czar” ends things on an epic note, another 8:30ish number that incorporates some of the storytelling elements of Plague of the Planet, driven home by a soaring Cirith Ungol vocal. Still going strong after all these years!
(Cruz del Sur)