New Brimstone Coven album? Shut up and take my money! That’s what I wrote on the bandcamp page for The Woes Of The Mortal Earth, and I’d be perfectly happy for the review to end right there. But that’s not the sort of thing you expect from The Sleeping Shaman is it? Hmm – ok.
My first exposure to Brimstone Coven was 2018s What Was And What Shall Be. I heard about it somewhere in the backblocks of social media, and it immediately became an all-time classic for me. I was instantly hooked on the combination of stately proto-doom fuzz and immaculately crafted harmonies. And that’s essentially what you’ll get with this latest album, too. Diehard fans of post-anything probably best move along; as Homer Simpson said, ‘Everyone knows rock attained perfection in 1974.’
Fitting that theme, the band’s bio invokes the names of Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd. Fair enough. To my ears though, Brimstone Coven are closest to the warmth and straightforward melodic sensibilities of Pentagram, mixed with something of the patience and elegance of 70s Floyd. There’s not much of the chilling starkness of the early Sabbath sound, and little of the thunderous bombast of Zeppelin.
The final piece of the puzzle, the element that, for me, makes Brimstone Coven stand out, both from earlier doom(ish) artists, and from retro-oriented contemporary artists, is the vocals. No strident Ozzy-influenced howls. No stratospheric NWOBHM wails. Two vocalists, often with no clear lead, and the creamy tones of Jerry Cantrell in mellow mood, harmonising with himself on one of his solo albums.
The Woes Of The Mortal Earth is a six-part liturgy of occult doom rock, solemn and sublime…
If you’re already a fan, and already knew all this stuff: my apologies. The three-piece lineup (Corey Roth – guitar & vocals; Andrew D’Cagna – bass & vocals; Dave Trik – drums) remains, as does the superb songwriting and the warm production.
The riffs are unhurried and uncluttered. They swagger along like my mate from days gone by, who would habitually drive his supercharged V8 extra slow, so more passers-by would hear it. Opening track The Inferno delivers a mid-paced gallop that Malcolm and Angus would be proud of, before second track When The World Is Gone shows off the band’s ability to switch effortlessly from delicate to strutting.
The dark lyrical themes remain too, of course, but, somewhat disappointingly, I don’t recall the name of Lucifer being explicitly invoked during the course of the album. Never mind – the morning star knows his servants. It’s entirely fitting too, that the twin vocals have a ritual and devotional character, and a seductive quality, to lull the listener/victim into submission.
There was never any chance of me not loving this album – I expect to be blasting this in the nursing home. The Woes Of The Mortal Earth is a six-part liturgy of occult doom rock, solemn and sublime. The pace is measured and the writing is confident. It’s a worthy addition to the band’s catalogue, to Ripple Music’s roster, and to your collection.
Scribed by: Rob Bryant