Opium Lord - Eye of Earth (Candlelight Records)

You gotta fight for your right to be gloomy!
Release Date: 
9 Mar 2015 (All day)

 

Doom seems to be at its greatest apogee in terms of popularity, influence, and most importantly, creativity. Doom merchants Electric Wizard charted at #64 on the Billboard Top 200. The new Pallbearer and Earth albums have got not just the metalheads, but fans of independent music abuzz. Doom bands with an established reputation, like Candlemass, Saint Vitus, Witchfinder General, Trouble, and Cathedral are more popular than ever, despite some of those bands no longer being active. Perhaps doom has caught the zeitgeist of these troubling times, what with endless war, climate change, and economic crisis without end. Whatever the reasons, Opium Lord’s debut album deserves attention from the doom fanatics, and general metal audiences, as a solid contribution to the flowering doom scene.

 

The album inhales its first narcotic with Challenger, undoubtedly one of Opium Lord’s strongest efforts. The distorted guitar, rumbling bass, crashing drum cymbals and harsh vocals with a sarcastic, accusatory bite, conjure up the best atmosphere for a drug addled stumble through the woods. Or any other anti-social activities you have in mind. Drums and bass are particularly distinctive on Pink Mass, utilising various tempos and rhythmic patterns to wrap themselves around the structure of the song like trails of opium smoke. Melodic guitar manages to peek through the murky gloom on Crystals at times, adding a dynamic that serves to accentuate the heavier nature of the song. Dragging, hulking, drawn out but in no way laboured, and featuring standout guitar and bass riffs, the repetition and variation on the main riffs of Ghost Singer leaves a lasting impression. And lastly, we have Krocodil, presumably named after the flesh eating drug of Russian origin. Epic, slow, sludgy and weighty, at almost seven minutes, it is the longest and most minimalist song on the album. Vocalist Nathan Coyle delivers a notable performance that sounds as if his flesh is actually being eaten.

 

Cacophonous one moment and restrained the next, Opium Lord’s first album flows excellently not just within each song, but across the entire album. This is an important element for doom bands especially, which need to keep the listener’s attention and not just drag on and on. Although, when done right, that can be part of the appeal of doom, as Sleep’s Dopesmoker proved. Recommended listening while reading Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater, or played obscenely loud on constant repeat while indulging your base appetites at a local opium den.