THE WOUNDED KINGS
Candlelight, 24 February 2014
Forget eye of newt, wing of bat. What we need is a pinch of Electric Wizard’s power. A few tablespoons of Saint Vitus’s majestic simplicity. A sprinkle of Jex Thoth’s occultish playfulness. Delicious… Of course, there is no guaranteed recipe for creating the perfect doom metal; it’s a quandary with which many have grappled and few have solved. The Wounded Kings, though, have got damn close.
Ultimately, inspiration must conquer imitation, and while The Wounded Kings are clearly well-versed in those classics of the genre mentioned above, there’s bucket-loads of inspiration coursing through this frothing doom potion.
These British misery mongers stir their ingredients slowly and with a delicate touch, knowing that patience will pay off. The immensely heavy guitars simmer and bubble, never hurried, while the occasional solos lift the heart rate and showcase guitarist and band founder Steve Mills’s impressive talents. Bass and drums stay mostly in the background, adding vast weight and energy. Elongated Hammond organ tones coil through the air like wisps of acrid smoke, building an atmosphere of mystery and magic (with or without a ‘k’, whichever you prefer).
From the first chords of gargantuan opening track ‘Gnosis’, the lava-like descent into hopelessness commences, and it’s beautiful to behold. The seven songs of ‘Consolamentum’, the band’s fourth full-length album, are big, traditional compositions, sometimes tumbling into a sludgy pit, launching into groovier riffs (particularly on the sub-two minute ‘Elige Magistrum’) or wandering down mystical, progressive passageways.
On this her second album with the band (following 2011’s splendid ‘In The Chapel Of The Black Hand’) Sharie Neyland unleashes her captivating siren song sparingly, a sign of the band’s confidence and maturity. Imagine a heavier version of Las Vegas’s Demon Lung, with an arcane, Ye Olde England vibe.
Following a number of line-up changes since starting out in 2005, Mills had promised “our most expansive and heaviest album yet”. The band handle their monstrous power with subtlety and skill. Not for them the slower-than-you competitive streak that hinders so many, nor any misguided Icarus-style quests for Ultimate Epicness. The Wounded Kings achieve intense heaviness and tumultuous emotive dexterity with apparent ease, and that’s the sign of a band in fine fettle.
Wounded they may be, but these Kings are battling on stronger than ever, ‘Consolamentum’ is a spellbinding album that has drawn to them an army of the doomed, willing to pledge their swords to this rising power from the West (ie. Devon). At times dangerously, thrillingly close to doom metal perfection, The Wounded Kings have got their recipe just right.
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