5th August 2014 – Metal Blade Records
01. Cosmic Communion
02. Behold, the Anunnaki
03. The Black Door
04. Blood on the Wall
05. The Grave
06. Lord & Master
08. The Seance
09. Hades Hymn
10. The Folly of Faust
11. Intro (Bonus Track)
12. We Are Forever (Bonus Track)
13. The Ancients (Bonus Track)
14. Son of the Morning (Bonus Track)
15. LoSt in the oDyssey (Bonus Track)
16. Children of the Sun (Bonus Track)
17. Outro (Bonus Track)
The occult retro metal musical style has really exploded in the past few years. Bands such as Ghost, Jess and the Ancient Ones, Blood Ceremony, Castle, and The Devil’s Blood have all tasted some level of success with the style – and so here we are with the debut of another band trying to break in: West Virginia’s Brimstone Coven. Their self-titled Brimstone Coven is also quite the throwback. Hints of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Pentagram lace this hour-long blend of retro rock and old-school doom metal.
The problem is not so much the elements used, but rather the combination of those elements. Many times the album walks the line between doom and rock without truly letting the better parts of either genre shine through. The song “The Séance” almost screams Saint Vitus, but it does not fully commit to that aesthetic. The guitars are not heavy enough for doom metal, but there is too much doomy, spooky atmosphere for it to be a more conventional rock album.
The musicianship is perfectly fine. Each member is perfectly capable and the drumming, always so important yet many times ignored, is rather enjoyable; drummer Justin Wood goes into a cowbell shuffle passage during “We Are Forever”, which should put a grin on anyone’s face.
Some of the guitar solos are pretty cool as well, but are largely forgettable after they are over. Vocalist “Big John” Williams might be the most memorable part of the band; his charm could be likened to that of Saint Vitus doomlord Scott Wino Weinrich himself, which makes it all the more disappointing that Brimstone Coven did not fully commit to doom.
Brimstone Coven is a combination of their full length album, plus a previous EP tacked on to the end as bonus tracks. It almost seems unnecessary to have done that, especially as it inflates the album’s overall length from 46 to 70 minutes. The album is too damn long;many of the songs trend towards being tired repetitions of the same riffs over and over rather than being dynamic and hard-hitting doom rock constructs.
Occult retro rock is hard to break into given the amount of bands trying it out, so it’ll take something stellar to stay in the picture. There are elements to Brimstone Coven that are enjoyable, and even a full song or two, but ultimately it falls short of the likes of Blood Ceremony or Ghost. They may be a new band, but they exist in a scene that is perhaps running out of room for any more acts. In that context, their self-titled debut really is not good enough to keep up. The songs are uninteresting and indecisive. It is entirely possible that the band could make a bigger splash with some maturation and growth, but this record is not the one to do that.
Best songs: “The Séance” “Folly of Faust”