I’d like to start this review, if I may, with a brief history of doom according to…me. Back in the late 60’s, fuelled by an interest in the occult and the desire to be heard above the chattering of disinterested crowds, Black Sabbath turned up and made rock and roll dark. Arguably at this point doom metal was born. Forgetting the millions of imitation bands that formed immediately in their wake and fast forward 10 years or so and bands like Trouble, Saint Vitus, Pentagram and Candlemass started taking the Sabbath sound to newer, slower, bleaker, heavier pastures and towards the late 80’s the term “doom” was starting to be used in relation to this burgeoning musical movement. In the wake of this the third wave appeared with bands such as Cathedral, Electric Wizard, Solitude Aeturnus, Penance, Count Raven…etc fully embraced the doom movement and made it their own. After that we get the fourth movement…the millions of bands who draw their influences from the doom pool but look no further than its narrow boundaries. And so, in 2011, doom has gone the same way as the Mersey sound of the 60’s, the punk wave of the late 70’s, the NWOBHM, 80’s hair metal, thrash, 90’s grunge, death metal and Nu Metal and stoner rock and become a genre watered down by copyists and repetition.
Sardinia’s Black Capricorn are another band to throw the word “black” into their name, tune down, buy a Big Muff and throw in their lot with the rest of the doom hordes. Now there are two ways to listen to this album, one is to listen to it in relation to their peers and one is to pluck it out of their chosen genre, try to forget everything else you’ve ever heard and listen to it in its own right. Using the second approach, this is a decent album. The riffs are simplistic yet reasonably effective and the band throw in a certain sense of dynamic to add light and shade…or rather pummel and relief to their sound through their structures and on tracks such as “10000 Tons Of Lava” they show an ability to rock out with a Kyuss like intensity. “The Maelmhaedhoc O’Morgair Prophecy” shows the band have a flair for inventiveness with a quirky, chanted type of vocal arrangement that rises above the rest of the songs on offer here as being that little bit different.
The production of the album does seem to give with one hand yet take away with the other. The guitars and bass do blend to produce a nice thick wall of crunch yet the drums seem to have been sacrificed as a result. The kick drum has little in the way of kick and the snare lacks snap so the impetus behind the music is somewhat neutered and where it should hit you in the chest it kind of taps you on the shoulder. Also the vocals of Kjxu have either been distorted or reverbed beyond all recognition… sometimes both at once which is a shame as the guy does have a decent voice under all that.
Now putting this album into context of its peers, it doesn’t fair quite so well. There isn’t a riff or melody here that couldn’t have been pulled straight from any number of underground doom albums released in the last 5 years and as a result the album does start to wash over you after a short while. It is fair to say that all bands are a product of their influences…and any band that denies this is either deluded or lying. A band doesn’t necessarily have to be blindingly original to be awesome, they just need to be able to write great songs and deliver them with attitude, style and passion. Unfortunately Black Capricorn write half decent songs and deliver them in a fairly perfunctory way, as if they always have one eye on their contemporaries…”hey, let’s make this vocal sound like Jus Oborne”. There are a lot of doom bands out there that, whilst not always being the most original, do this kind of thing with so much more guts and flair…Serpent Venom, Misty Morning and Pallbearer spring immediately to mind.
I hope this album sells, I hope the band continue to make the music they love and reach a fan base as there is something here for any doom fan to enjoy…unfortunately it’s also in a lot of other places as well.
Scribed by: Ollie Stygall