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(58.59, Black Widow Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Pachidermic Ritual 2.13 2. Another Black Day Under the Dead Sun 10.06 3. The Raven 9.24 4. Oblivion 8.00 5. Vanitas15.08 6. Head of the River 2.46 7. Rotten River 11.27 LINEUP: Cynar – vocals Drugo – guitars Molestus – guitars BJ – bass Pinna – drums With: Danilo Silvestri – percussion; backing vocals (3, 5) Marco Resovaglio – organ (3, 5) Mirko Cicconi – flute (2, 5) Tiziano Tarli – violin (2) Massimo Siravo – Moog (7) Annarita Lombardi – voice (5)
Prolusion. Hailing from Rome, Italy, DOOMRAISER have been active since 2004; “Erasing the Remembrance” is their second full-length album. The double vinyl version of the album contains two bonus tracks: Dune Messiah (Buffalo cover) and Caves, Mountains and Monolith (originally issued in the 7” "Behind the Same Cross”, recorded together with Milan-based band Midryasi). Since their inception, Doomraiser have also been very active on the live circuit, with extensive European tours and appearances at international festivals.
Analysis. With extremely refreshing honesty for today’s music world, where artists are often prone to describing themselves as purveyors of something unique (even if, in most cases, this is anything but true), Doomraiser openly admit that their music does not claim to be innovative in any way, but is rather to be seen as a tribute to their favourite genre – doom metal. As a matter of fact, the band as a whole comes across as a bunch of guys who want to have fun playing ‘heavy drunken doom’ (the title of their first demo – a sort of statement of intent), and squeezing all the clich?s of the genre into an album that, while entertaining in its own peculiar way, does not impress the listener as particularly accomplished effort. Indeed, everything about the band makes one wonder if they are really taking themselves seriously – from the members’ image, a throwback to the Eighties’ obligatory metalhead uniform of denim, leather and studs, to their amusing stage names (probably originated as nicknames used by the band in their circle of friends) and the equally funny descriptions of their roles (such as ‘the lazy slow hand of doom’ instead of the much more prosaic ‘guitar’). The song titles and their lyrics seem to collect most of the traditional ingredients of the genre – the word ‘black’ repeated dozens of times in various combinations, graveyards, zombies, skulls and the like. Moreover, unlike their label mates Witchfield, Doomraiser avoid any literary references, and their remarkably unsophisticated approach comes across as cartoonish rather than erudite – as shown by the na?ve, somewhat homespun artwork of the cover and CD booklet. As unfortunately seems to be the rule with far too many Italian bands, in spite of their choice to record all their works in English, the band’s grasp of the language is far from ideal. Consequently, both lyrics and titles may often come across as slightly ridiculous (Pachidermic Ritual, anyone?) as well as decidedly cliched, with their emphasis on death, decay, sorrow, darkness, and all the usual features of the genre. The Italian accent is also quite evident in the vocal delivery, though this should not come as a surprise to those who listen to a lot of Italian rock. The content of the previous paragraphs may sound a tad harsh on the band, as if “Erasing the Remembrance” had no saving graces at all. On the contrary, I found the album a rather pleasant listen – for all its overall monotonousness and unrelenting doom and gloom, it sounds much warmer, more spontaneous than the slew of run-of-the-mill progressive metal releases that have been flooding the music scene in the last few years. Cynar’s vocals, very much unlike the Ozzy Osbourne clone that one would expect from a doom metal outfit, are quite versatile, at times even commanding, and add interest to songs that in most cases go on a little bit too long (with the exception of the two instrumental intros, the tracks are all between 8 and 15 minutes). Needless to say, with Black Sabbath being the main influence here, the album is built around the heavy, plodding riffage that has come to be associated with the seminal English band and their followers. Most songs alternate slower and faster sections, though drastic changes in pace are quite rare – the only noticeably faster item being the cavalcade-style first half of Rotten River. The obligatory guitar solos make frequent use of distortion and other effects in the wall-of-sound style of Tony Iommi, though not as powerful and expressive. Given this overall simplistic structure, any references to more progressive stylings are few and far between and mostly embodied by the occasional presence of more ‘cultivated’ instruments, like the violin, the organ and the flute. The most progressive effort by far is, unsurprisingly, the album’s epic, the 15-minute Vanitas, which features a mournful flute intro, a female voice reciting a prayer in Italian, and a rather sparse, atmospheric final section of impressive slowness. As should be expected from such an album, the production is somewhat murky, since a crystal-clear sound would detract from the overall atmosphere. Though anyone approaching “Erasing the Remembrance” should not expect a masterpiece, the album can be an agreeable change of pace from the intricacies and pretensions of so much ‘traditional’ prog – as long as the listener does not object to the somewhat depressing trappings of doom metal.
Conclusion. Even though “Erasing the Remembrance” sounds like something the band really enjoyed making – which lends a somewhat endearing quality to it – it is nonetheless an effort targeted to a fairly restricted audience of devotees of ‘vintage’ doom metal. Dedicated fans of progressive rock will not find much of interest here, unless one counts the length of most of the tracks and the occasional use of chamber instruments.
RB=Raffaella Berry: October 10, 2009
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