Thursday 7 August 2014

Fourth Seal - Book XIV (Album Review)

Book XIV cover art

Album Type: EP
Date Released: July 12th 2014
Label: Self Released

Book XIV - track listing:

1.Track I 13:43
2.Track II 18:24


The Fourth Seal. The final step in the Apocalypse. Once broken, the Fourth Seal will unleash the final horseman, Death, upon the Pale Horse. As he rides across the world, Hell shall follow him, swallowing all who fall.

Fourth Seal is a solemn representation of that coming event; a cacophonous memorial to the fate that awaits all men.

Band Members

All members anonymous


Did you know that Dog the Bounty Hunter is from Denver, Colorado? And correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Dog the Bounty Hunter once famously proclaim; “My wife fucks like a hungry reptile when I start spinning those groovy, satanic sounds”. He didn’t actually say that, as you might imagine, I’m just scraping the bottom of the barrel for a humorous lead in to something that’s not one bit funny at all. It’s loathsome and callous and it comes from Denver’s Blackened Doom duo, Fourth Seal.

Fourth Seal’s first offering is over half an hour’s worth of amorphous horror. Two tracks map out the journey for you, but that’s about as close to tradition as you may find on this one. Fourth Seal inject poisonous doses of Black Metal into a bloated body of Doom, marrying the two in an entirely different manner than most have in the past. There’s nothing fancy or over-the-top about Book XIV, in fact, it comes off immediately as the complete antithesis to the epic, melodious “Funeral” sound that many bands have gone for over the years. It’s both hypnotic and rough as a bear’s arse at the same time.

The very first thing you may notice about Book XIV is that it was recorded on a child’s hand in a studio made of Styrofoam boxes and razor wire. This bad trip of a slab is made only more noxious by its recording quality, and that’s what hooked me from the beginning. I’m a salivating pig for lo-fi when it’s cooked just right. It has to have just enough grain to give the overall picture some character, but enough clarity so I can still see what’s going on in it. While there’s always improvements to be made and sounds to experiment with, Fourth Seal definitely have the right ears for that “kvlt” quality and that’s apparent from the moment this fucker’s engine starts coughing up blood. Though it would be interesting to hear what the band would sound like with a little more muscle on the guitar tone, the coarseness of Book XIV is, as I said before, a creature all unto itself.

You’re dragged through the nettles throughout the album’s thirty and something minutes, a guitar howls madly one moment only to snap into place with a solid riff the next while the frosty and dominant percussion constantly remind you throughout that you’re listening to a metal band. The absence of vocals on the album was a good decision as the music itself is so busy and often chaotic that vox, even just the odd wail here and there, would just be absorbed into the wall of sound already molesting your senses. I don’t like name-dropping or making too many lazy comparisons, but if I could indulge for a moment, I’d recommend Fourth Seal to any Ramesses or 11Paranoias fan, if horrific, barbarous psychedelia is to your masochistic tastes.

In the long run, Book XIV is great first offering made only more interesting by its ballsy direction and execution. It constantly climbs and descends through an icy landscape, bringing you on a guided tour through the bleak picture they’ve painted for you. A deep, cavernous Black Metal demeanour on the face of a Doom album.

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Written by Liam Doyle