Monday, 25 August 2014

Brimstone Coven - S/T (Album Review)


Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 5/8/2014
Label: Metal Blade Records

‘Brimstone Coven’ CD/DD/LP track listing: 

01. Cosmic Communion 04:41
02. Behold, the Anunnaki 05:47
03. The Black Door 03:52
04. Blood on the Wall 04:33
05. The Grave 04:36
06. Lord & Master 06:14
07. Vying 04:49
08. The Séance 03:52
09. Hades Hymn 01:30
10. The Folly of Faust 07:06
11. Intro (Bonus Track) 00:51
12. We Are Forever (Bonus Track) 03:23
13. The Ancients (Bonus Track) 03:15
14. Son of the Morning (Bonus Track) 05:37
15. LoSt in the oDyssey (Bonus Track) 03:56
16. Children of the Sun (Bonus Track) 05:13
17. Outro (Bonus Track) 00:38

Bio:

Brimstone Coven is a retro-hard rock / doom band that hails of out Wheeling, WV. They began brewing their own blend of "dark occult rock" in the early months of 2011. Corey Roth (Guitarist) wrote the first five songs, which would later become the band's self titled album. Roth went on to handpick three seasoned musicians from the local scene. Andrew D'Cagna (Bass), Justin Wood (Drums), and "Big John" Williams (Vocals) were recruited to carry out Roth's plan for sonic domination.

Echoing the eerie reverberations of hard rock heavyweights such as Black Sabbath and Pentagram, mixed with the classic rock style of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, Brimstone Coven strive to preserve a vintage rock sound mixed with a style all their own. After many shows, one album, the band added new drummer Dan Hercules, released their second album, simply titled "II", which was released in November of 2013, and signed with Metal Blade Records!

Since signing with Metal Blade, original drummer Justin Wood has returned to the fold and has rounded out the seminal chemistry the band had been looking for. Metal Blade Records will begin their new partnership with Brimstone Coven by releasing the band's latest album combined with their debut EP, complete with new mastering and brand new artwork. Artwork was completed by Creighton, the same mind behind the band's first two releases. The newly packaged and mastered set 17 tracks will serve as a solid introduction to Brimstone Coven for new fans. On August 5, the album will be available digitally and physically in North America.

The Band:

John Williams | Vocals
Corey Roth | Guitar
Andrew D'Cagna | Bass
Justin Wood | Drums

Review:

Dark, occult rockers Brimstone Coven are a band with their head firmly in the past. Yet today, their retro tones have arguably never been more relevant. Everywhere you look there are bands desperately trying to transport us back to the 60s and 70s, from Graveyard and Witchcraft to Mount Salem, Uncle Acid and Blues Pills. This, I might add, is no mere fleeting trend. Modern bands have been chasing the archaic for years now, so when another comes along, your average listener may let out a sigh lamenting such a motif.

Sludgelord’s own Aaron Pickford, when reviewing the band’s self-titled E.P in November last year was quick to point this out. “Many emulate the heroes of yore and yet, others who will remain nameless try too damn hard and thus in turn, merely come across as copyist and therefore undermine the integrity of their music,” he mused. “So, when faced with the prospect of reviewing Brimstone Coven, it was with a great deal of anxiety and trepidation...but this is not simply a pastiche, what we have is 5 original and skilfully constructed songs."

Brimstone Coven then, have already poked their eager heads above the majority of the backwards glancing pack. But can they build on such success with their first full-length offering? Well, the band’s signature brew is certainly one that captures the imagination and gets the ears pricked.

Their emphasis on the occult gives them a moody edge, although the instrumentation, you could argue, is a step away from what you may expect. This is a band that resembles Free and Bad Company more so than they do Black Sabbath or Cathedral.

As opener ‘Cosmic Communion’’s pounding heart bass drum lures you in, it becomes abundantly clear that this is straight up classic rock. There is little flamboyancy, rather remaining focussed on writing simple, addictive songs. Vocally, “Big John” Williams often sounds like a chanting monk, muttering some hellish ritual, much like the charismatic Papa Emeritus II of Ghost B.C. Some of his charm, his brooding dark intentions and his equally as uplifting tenor are just as prevalent in Williams’ voice. They are, quite intriguingly, as ominously dark and resonantly evil as they are fun, groovy and free-spirited.

One major highlight on the album is ‘The Back Door’. The chanting monk vocals are here extremely prominent and they raise hairs on the back of your neck. It gives the song, which is, underneath everything, when stripped to its bare essentials, a fantastic 70s inspired rock song, a creepy, demented vibe.  

‘The Séance’ sees their Sabbath influence breaking through to the forefront. A really well written song, the guitars are smartly pieced together, with Justin Wood’s jittering drums the perfect backdrop. 

It’s a very spacious album. The songs are given plenty of room to breathe, with the drums alone often carrying the song forwards. They experiment freely with dynamics, with such changes and jam orientated moments really drawing you into the thrall of it all. You get lost in the moment, in the chemistry between members. Less is most definitely more.

‘Lord & Master’ is a ticking time bomb of a track. Slow, soft and seductive, there is always an underlying fever itching to break out. When it does eventually explode into life, it does so brilliantly.

All in all, ‘Brimstone Coven’ is a solid album of strong tracks and smart song writing. But I feel the best is yet to come from them. The band have their sound, their niche if you will, and now they need to, in due time, develop and adapt it into something truly special. They need to master their craft. What they have here is an enjoyable embryo, but I can see this band growing into something bigger, better and even more superb than they already are. It’s a bright future for a dark band.

Words: Phil Weller

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