The Wounded Kings
In the Chapel of the Black Hand
posted on 10/2011 By:
It’s no secret that Doom Metal and its bastard children Stoner and Sludge have had a great upsurge in popularity, progression and production lately. What ten years ago was usually filled with Peaceville Three clones and weepy, melodramatic Goth-isms has risen to front and center of the modern metal scene. It’s certainly divided metal fans, that’s for sure. There are those that were never into it when it wasn’t this popular and still can’t listen to Saint Vitus without asking you to put on some Slayer. Then there are those who can listen to Sunn droning on for five hours in a row without even a bong rip.
At this point, I feel as if this band needs little introduction. If their debut In the Embrace of the Narrow House didn’t catch you, then it’s very likely that last year’s excellent The Shadow Over Atlantis did. If Embrace drew favorable comparisons to fellow UK riff lords Electric Wizard, then Shadow cemented them as a veritable Doom (with a capital D) powerhouse in their own right. There have been quite a bit of changes within the band’s camp over the last year, the most noticeable of which has to be that the King has taken a Queen.
Their new vocalist Sharie Neyland sounds like a sultry (oc)cult priestess. The kind of evil babe from Robert E. Howard stories that you'd expect to be wandering around in a neck-tied cloak, some symbolic jewelry, knee-high boots and little else. You know, the sort that you know is going to drain your blood into a bone chalice for whatever dark deity she serves, but you can't help but wish she'd drain you of something else first. In the past I’ve been a bit leery about female vocalists in metal. It’s to be expected, with what seems like more than half being posturing prima donnas or gothic wannabe starlets using sex appeal to turn a profit instead of talent or vision in a still male-dominated and sexually frustrated scene. Thank the dark lord for women like Sharie and Vanessa Nocera of Wooden Stake, among others. These ladies are bringing doom, gloom, evil and most importantly a feeling of authenticity to their metal without feeling the need to take the stage wearing a PVC bustier.
But what about the actual music, you ask? What we have here is a four-song, forty-and-change-minute-long album. Three of these tunes are over the ten-minute mark, and one is a shorter instrumental. Be warned, friends, the riffs pound and burn like the fists of an angry fire god while the rhythm section -- a pointless distinction in a doom band really -- lends a kind of tribal ritualistic atmosphere. Leads tend towards a smoky, bluesy flavor that’s all too fitting. The production is warm and fuzzy, but has excellent clarity. Little will escape your notice via audio weed-smoke and fuzz-box worship.
This album is best taken in as a whole, from the organ intro and calling upon of Dionysus -- the Roman god of getting drunk on the blood of grapes, ritually going insane and having spiritual episodes of altered consciousness -- to the final life sacrifice at the end of this dark road. It also serves to further cement The Wounded Kings as not only purveyors of fine Doom, but as one of the front-runners of the whole genre. Overall, this record is an epic triumph for these gents and lady, and stands as proof positive that previous adoration of this band is completely warranted. Do yourself a favor if you’re a fan of any kind of occult-themed heavy rock, especially if you like to get your doom on, and surrender yourself to In the Chapel of the Black Hand – you won’t be disappointed.
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