Review: Dread Sovereign ‘Alchemical Warfare’

I ‘ve been uncharacteristically out of the loop on Dread Sovereign, brainchild of Primordial’s Nemtheanga, as this is their third full length and the last I caught up with them it was on 2014’s All Hell’s Martyrs, which fellow scribe Alex Varley reviewed back in the same year. Alchemical Warfare is out now through Metal Blade Records.

Dread Sovereign 'Alchemical Warfare'

A Curse On Men is a swelling, spacey intro with what sounds like an old crone chanting black magic in the background. Fitting, considering the album’s artwork of Newton’s pursuit of alchemy. She Wolves Of The Savage Season starts with a lumbering epic doom riff that you think is going to continue before it breaks down into a more straightforward heavy metal stomp. Nemtheanga‘s vocals are as potent and powerful as ever, and his impassioned roar really suits the style.

Much like his other project, Twilight Of The Gods, Dread Sovereign aren’t as primal as Primordial but retain that same aura of power. Guitarist Bones wrings some of the finest proto doom riffs from his axe here, channelling Sabbath and Saint Vitus with aplomb particularly on the gloomy thunder of The Great Beast We Serve. But it’s apparent from the first likes of She Wolves… solo that this is no mere doom record.

This is a record that can appeal to the glummest doom fans, as well as those who need a little stomp…

Nature Is The Devil’s Church does have some Primordial vibes to it, with an almost blackened edge to it at points. It drives forward with singular purpose before slowly opening up into a spiralling, solo riddled sky of rain. Her Master’s Voice is a prog rock power ballad doused with Vitus-like tar, and is a thing of absolute dark beauty. It’ll be hard pushed to be bettered by anything this year, and it’s only January!

Viral Tomb‘s a brief interlude before the crunchy RAWK of Devil’s Bane gives everything a good kick up the arse. The impassive Ruin Upon The Temple Mount is the most traditional doom song here, building with dense drumming and skittering guitar before it becomes a massive tribute to the type of regal, orthodox doom that Reverend Bizarre perfected. Crackling with power, it draws us into the closing You Don’t Move Me (I Don’t Give a Fuck), which blasts us to the end with some raucous, nasty riffs in a cathartic explosion of heavy metal greatness.

Positioning itself firmly in the worlds where heavy metal and doom were just beginning to separate (the 80s man), Alchemical Warfare retains the sense of accessibility and groove of the former, while embracing the darkness and gloom of the latter. Dread Sovereign have the credibility to walk that fine line simply through sheer musical talent. This is a record that can appeal to the glummest doom fans, as well as those who need a little stomp and numerous guitar solos to get their motor running. That is talent.

Label: Metal Blade Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Sandy Williamson