Brimstone Coven

Brimstone Coven

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It would seem that with a band name like Brimstone Coven, listeners know what they're getting into right up front. Add retrofitted album art full of skulls, vacant-eyed witches, and other random occult imagery and all the telltale signifiers of doom-mongering, Sabbath-modeled stoner rock come even more into view. This West Virginia-based quartet certainly does come from the school of metal whose members wore out their copies of Paranoid, but for as deeply informed by early metal as Brimstone Coven are, they also manage to put a unique spin on things, upping both the psychedelia and haunting atmosphere of their songs more than the average stoner rock group. This album collects remastered versions of their self-released 2012 EP and its 2013 follow-up, II. While the riffs are sludgy and raw, a spaced-out undercurrent flows through the album even from the first few tracks. "Cosmic Communion" finds brooding harmonies swirling around the band's bluesy metal riffs, marrying the heaviness of Sabbath with a more Pink Floyd-styled dreaminess. Hints of theatrical metal come through in vocalist "Big John" Williams' throaty vocals, which call to mind everyone from Ronnie James Dio to Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson on tracks like the lurching "Behold, the Anunnaki." The band's jagged dual guitar leads sound cribbed from Metallica's moodiest moments on some of Ride the Lightning's tracks, and the funk-tinged groove of standout track "The Grave" eventually builds toward the same fury and melodrama of lesser-known metal burners like Pentagram. The 17 tracks laid out here all have similarly conjured retro-metal tones, but the collection rarely feels tiresome. The band has clearly spent a lot of time with classic metal, and these dutifully constructed stoner anthems and apocalyptic sendups sound like an unearthed time capsule of lost sludgy gems from 1972 without ever feeling like mere mimicry of the masters.

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