Tuesday, 15 November 2016

“11 is one Louder”: Iron Void part II. Guitarist Steve Wilson chooses his Top 5 Trad. Doom Albums

As we may have mentioned before, Iron Void are one the UK's leading exponents of traditional doom: doom with singing, doom with riffs, doom with... songs?! A few weeks back Iron Void bassist, Jonathan “Sealey” Seale chose his top five trad doom records in the first of a two article feature.  Today we present part two of this double header with Iron Void, guitarist/vocalist, Steven Wilson choosing his own top five trad doom albums, so turn the dial all the way to up because “11 is one louder

Black Sabbath – “Black Sabbath”

The album that started it all! As soon as you hear the rain and thunder with the church bell tolling in the distance, you know you're in something heavy. It could be argued that they've done better albums since, but the first one captures the sinister essence of Black Sabbath while keeping the blues and jazz part of their sound. Songs from this and the “Paranoid” album were the first Sabbath riffs I learned to play, and I learned a lot about how the drums, guitar and bass can work together. Each instrument is really clearly defined and easy to make out. I don't always agree with everything Ozzy Osbourne says, but I think he could be right about this being his best vocal performance on record. This is a simpler sounding band, but just as heavy as their later albums. This record sounds good at any volume level. It's heavy and powerful, loud and relaxing and melodic if you turn it down.

Cathedral – “The Carnival Bizarre”

“Hopkins – The Witchfinder General” is a very cheesy song, and I'm sure we're all sick of it now. It did get me into Cathedral and made me check out their albums though, so it served its purpose in that respect. I think this was the first or second Cathedral album I ever heard. It's the first one without Adam Lehan (Gaz Jennings plays all the guitar on it) and that seems to give it a different character. Gaz was able to do whatever he wanted and it seems to be a bit more focused for it. It's the perfect mix of heavy doom metal and psychedelia. I don't know if Lee Dorian's vocals have aged that well, but it really opened my eyes to simple songwriting and how much you could do with a couple of riffs. It's worth mentioning that the track 'Utopian Blaster' features a guest solo by none other than Tony Iommi himself! It's worth checking out just for that fact alone. I've still got the double 10” vinyl somewhere in my collection and it's not likely to be sold any time soon!

Iron Man – “Generation Void”

Like the other albums on my list, “Generation Void” is mainly made up of simple riffs and well timed vocals, backed up by a tight rhythm section. That's all you need to be honest! Al Morris III comes up with riffs to rival even Black Sabbath on this album. I heard it years ago but I only bought a copy on CD about ten years ago. It just always seems to have been there. Someone must have taped it for me at some point because I remember listening to it a lot. This is probably the first 'Maryland doom' band that I heard, and the simple song writing mixed with melodic vocals have stayed with me into my songwriting for Iron Void. The riffs from 'Final Resting Place' (from “Spell of Ruin”) are directly inspired by Al Morris' guitar playing style.

Spirit Caravan – “Jug Fulla Sun”

After Iron Man, Spirit Caravan are the next logical step forward. I met up with Murray (who I would later find out was in year Zero) and a mate of his a couple of times with the intention of starting a band. It never came to be, but one of them suggested I listen to this record. I remember thinking the name sounded daft, but it stuck in my memory. I think I bought the “Dreamwheel” EP before this, but this was the first full album of Wino's music that I ever got hold of. From here, I moved on to Saint Vitus and The Obsessed, as well as The Hidden Hand, Place of Skulls, you name it. I couldn't believe that I'd never heard of Wino before 1999/2000. I knew about Iron Man but I'd never heard any Pentagram, Saint Vitus or anything like that. I really like simple riffs and powerful clean vocals, and Wino is the master of that! His influence can be heard in everything we've done so far, especially my approach to playing guitar and singing at the same time when playing live. He's not really doing anything unique, but the way he plays really struck a chord with me. Having Gary Isom and Dave Sherman as the rhythm section couldn't have done any harm either! Spirit Caravan's music taught me that it's OK to write simple songs on purpose. They were a master class in how to put together a power trio.

Pagan Altar – “Judgement of the Dead”

Another band that I didn't get to hear until I got online. I think I first heard this album around 2003 or 2004, when it was out on CD as “Volume 1”. I got the vinyl reissue entitled “Judgement of the Dead” a few years later, and it was worth every penny. Their music is a mix of NWOBHM, classic rock and what we would now call Doom Metal. Simple heavy rock arrangements with bluesy guitar but dark, sinister and honest vocals and lyrics. This is their debut album, and it's a bit rough production-wise. I tend to like these the best though, because it's the first incarnation of a band. Everything is new and the enthusiasm is still there. Pagan Altar reformed with a new drummer and bass player a few years ago after a resurgence of interest in the band. We were lucky enough to gig with them a few times and it was a pleasure to see and hear them play live, even though Terry was obviously a lot older than he looked on the album cover! He is sorely missed and unfortunately there are still a lot of doom and metal fans out there who have no idea who he was or what the band might have sounded like. 
Iron Void plays “Hammer of Doom” fest this Saturday.  Check the poster below for more details. 

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