III: So Long Suckers
posted on 8/2007 By:
There's a very wise Chinese proverb that states, "If you must play, decide on three things at the onset: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time."
Ancient Chinese secret, huh? Well, apparently so, because there doesn’t seem to be enough folks rollin’ with the equation these days. Is there anything sadder than seeing someone or something you once held in the highest regard eventually waft forth nothing but rot and dregs over and over again until you finally decide to stop paying attention? The prospect of new material that used to leave you giddy as a little girl with a fresh sheet of stickers, now replaced with thoughts of, “Oh good Lord, not another album/book/season/etc.” The solution seems so very simple -- quit while you're ahead -- yet as any gambler will sermonize with forehead laid sadly upon the bar, sometimes that shit just ain't easy…especially when the craft is putting a little scratch in your pocket.
Luckily enough, from time to time we actually do come across artisans who bow out of the game at the apex, leaving fans with nary a smudge to speak of. Masters of Their Domain, so to speak. Such is the case with Finland’s purveyors of classic doom, Reverend Bizarre. After two full-lengths, three EP’s (two of which clock in at over an hour), and a handful of rare splits and demo’s, the band has decided to disappear in a plume of smoke with their envoi LP, III: So Long Suckers, and it’s really one hell of a crowning achievement.
Two discs and well over two-hours worth of slooooow, classic doom – it’s a difficult pill to swallow for the casual onlooker. Then again, the Rev’s brand never really was intended for the cursory fan. Nope, this is doom tailor-made for zealots and the musically adventurous. So Long Suckers still focuses on the formula so deeply entrenched through the band’s previous works -- music steeped with the more ballsy, bold doomage of Sabbath, et al, just much, much more draaaaaaaaawn out -- but the song-writing, tempo shifts, and general flow found this time around is truly among the strongest and most absorbing this troupe has done. The itty-bitty ‘party flavor’ heard at the start of II: Crush the Insects (“Doom All Over the World”) is toned down, but there’s still plenty of swagger to be heard as a couple of the lengthier numbers here feature a wonderfully greazy yet bold groove that could easily set a person to struttin’ down the ave. in a keep-on-truckin’, finger-gunnin’ kinda way: “They Used Dark Forces/Teutonic Witch” [29:05], and “One Last Time” [15:39]. But we also find a few cuts traveling down a much, much darker, more grievous path: “Sorrow” [25:20], “Funeral Summer” [11:41], and the kingly “Caesar Forever” [15:43], for example. There’s even a nod towards the traditional, galloping metal styling laid down by the likes of very early Manowar and Manilla Road afoot – the amazing “Anywhere Out of This World” [25:32] which has the potential of stealing the doom song of the year right from under Pale Divine’s nose (“I Alone the Traveler”). Hell, it might end up becoming my favorite tune of theirs since “The Wandering Jew” from their excellent 2003 Harbringer of Metal EP.
But what sets these fellers apart from many of the other bands playing incredibly long, drawn out sloooooow metal is exactly the point I touched upon above: Reverend Bizarre isn’t afraid to season their broad soundscapes with multiple tempo-shifts. Sometimes you might have to wait a really long time for it to happen (15-minutes into “Sorrow”, for example) but when that groove eventually hits, you just can’t help but raise that fist and bang your snarlin’ head alongside. Each song on So Long Suckers sees some sort of bend into a greasy groove; HEAVY, slow riff; or quiet, floating moment, which really gives these songs the sort of longevity that’ll keep listeners returning to the album for many years to come. And not to be outdone by one of the other very highly regarded doom albums of 2007 -- Pale Divine’s Cemetery Earth -- this record is also packed with oodles of solos. However, instead of only hearing them rip forth from the fine guitar work of Peter Vicar, a huge portion actually burble forth from Albert Witchfinder’s wicked, wicked bass. Not that this is new territory for the band, mind you, but the bubbling this time around just seems to strike with a little extra resilience – truly an album for those favoring heavy bass guitar. This isn’t to take away from the remaining players, however. Apart from Albert’s bass and perpetually smooth, soulful vocal delivery, Peter’s fretwork and Void’s absorbing, organic drumming hit directly on target once again as well.
That’s it. They’re done. No more. Haters can rejoice, and fans craving new material from the trio will have to turn their attention to the dark progressive rock styling of Orne to get their fix (which, by the way, is excellent, although I’m not certain Albert has a long-term commitment with the band). Reverend Bizarre have left fans of doom metal with an immensely impressive catalog of material to return to. And return we certainly will. These albums, these EP’s, these splits: they’re all bound for the halls of “classic works” of the genre. This band understood the principles of doom metal fully, and they were certainly aware of the stakes of the game as well. Now, with III: So Long Suckers, Reverend Bizarre have executed a wonderful curtain call and left their fans from the utmost peak of Mt. Doom with an essential recording. Godspeed, you Pontiffs, Godspeed.
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