Curiously, of all the major heavy metal subgenres steadily embraced by Finnish bands starting in the early ‘90s (black metal, death metal, power metal, folk metal, you name it), doom seemed to be the last to arrive in a significant way. Whether this was a matter of simple coincidence, or because it's much more difficult to stay warm when playing music so damn slow, virtually all that the snow-bound country could muster before the turn of the millennium were obscure funeral doom trawlers Skepticism and the heavily gothic-leaning Shapes of Despair. But at last, Lucifer said "Let there be Reverend Bizarre": a Sabbath-worshipping trio whose 2002 long-form debut, In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend, championed vintage doom of the highest order. You know, the kind that comes with very large crosses, much standing around in snow-covered graveyards, frequent references to Aleister Crowley, and, most important of all, very large and scary goats…as seen on this album's cover detail taken from Francisco de Goya's Witches Sabbath. All this proves the perfect framework for monolithic tracks like "Burn in Hell!" and "Sodoma Sunrise," where the band treats every majestic mega-riff as though it's both the first and last they'll ever play, and where Albert Witchfinder's vibrato-laden, semi-operatic vocals (he doesn't bother with deathly grunts until second to last track "Doomsower") don't quite challenge a Messiah Marcolin, but still prove far more melodramatic than a Bobby Liebling or certainly Ozzy himself. Meanwhile, the song "In the Rectory" recalls Cathedral for sheer, slow-crawling concentration, and the especially sorrowful "The Hour of Death" Electric Wizard for its unmitigated sense of imminent dread. And it's a testament to the strength of Reverend Bizarre's power chords and melodies that one doesn't even start to mind the preposterous lengths of most of these tracks until the final, titanic, 21-minute grind of "Cirith Ungol" (no relation to the ‘80s L.A. band). Given that these mere six, colossal tracks were packed into a CD-busting 75 minutes, it's no wonder that In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend managed to announce Reverend Bizarre -- and really Finland's -- true arrival on the international doom stage.
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AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2