ALBUM REVIEW: Caronte ‘Church Of Shamanic Goetia’

Caronte

CARONTE
‘Church Of Shamanic Goetia’
Ván Records
(Released 31 October 2014)
8/10

Caronte’s new album feels like the final realisation of the Parma-based band’s heartfelt musical vision. Passion and creativity shine through as the Bones brothers (Dorian on vocals, Tony on guitar, Henry on bass) and drummer Mike de Chirico play their distinctive brand of slow, thoughtful voodoo doom.

‘Church Of Shamanic Goetia’ seems to be a reflection of a tough couple of years for the band, a period of time that has strengthened their bond and deepened their spiritual connections. As students of witchcraft and philosophy, Caronte have embarked on an esoteric trip into the unknown. Sometimes dark and psychedelic, sometimes spiritual and ponderous, and sometimes all-out stoner rock, this album draws upon the “forces of the universe” to inspire a joyously experimental adventure of gongs, bongs and long songs.

It all begins like a windy day in a Nepalese tourist shop: opening song ‘Maa-Kheru’s Rebirth’ tinkles, clatters and thumps various items of percussion to create a mind-bending musical mantra. Then the thick, soupy guitars flood in, Dorian Bones’s Danzig-tinged voice speaks of searching the void, and big, expansive choruses make the whole thing accessible. At times, the singer could be compared to professional sulky-pants Morrissey, but only in tone and delivery rather than preening personality.

The opening song fades into a slightly empty, vague passage in its middle, which loses the early impetus. And while this happens on a few isolated occasions throughout the album, generally there is enough interesting stuff going on to maintain your interest, whether you’re into psych or doom.

Bones’s vocals are interwoven with gentle chanting, such as on ‘Black Mandala’ and ‘Handlecheyapi’, as the Italian band delivers a consistently ritualistic concept throughout the album’s one-hour-plus duration. The hypnotising mantra may be the main focus, but Caronte also crank things up when the mood takes them.

The song ‘Wakan Tanka Riders’ begins as a stoner metal riot, as well as being a taxing tongue-twister. Anyway, whether or not you know what a wakan tanka is, by the end of this track you’ll definitely want to ride one. The closing song, ‘Left Hand Voodoo’, is a swirling, foot-tapping shamanic odyssey that brings the album to a deeply disturbing finale.

‘Church Of Shamanic Goetia’ is Caronte’s fourth release. In 2011, they recorded a debut EP called ‘Ghost Owl’, which was followed by the full-length ‘Ascension’ the next year and a split with Doomraiser in 2013. Caronte have drifted away from their Electric Wizard-style origins, searching the universe to find their own strong personality. In doing so they have created a great, original album packed with arcane magic.

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