Reverend Bizarre

In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend

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Curiously, of all the major heavy metal subgenres (black metal, death metal, power metal, folk-metal) steadily embraced by Finnish bands starting in the early '90s, 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 slowly, all this Scandinavian country could muster before the turn of the millennium were obscure funeral doom trawlers Skepticism and the heavily gothic-leaning Shapes of Despair. At last, Lucifer said "Let there be Reverend Bizarre." This Sabbath-worshipping trio's 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 the cover detail taken from Francisco de Goya's Witches Sabbath. This proves the perfect framework for monolithic tracks like "Burn in Hell!" and "Sodoma Sunrise," where the bandmembers treat every majestic mega-riff as though it's both the first and last they'll ever play, and where Albert Magus' 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 more melodramatic than a Bobby Liebling or even Ozzy himself. "In the Rectory" recalls Cathedral for sheer slow-crawling concentration and, for its unmitigated sense of imminent dread, the especially sorrowful "The Hour of Death" recalls Electric Wizard. And it's a testament to the strength of Reverend Bizarre's power chords and melodies that things don't even get all that preposterous until the final snail-paced grind of the 21-minute "Cirith Ungol" (no relation to the L.A. band). Packed into a CD-busting 75 minutes, it's no wonder these six tracks were enough to announce Reverend Bizarre -- and really Finland's -- true arrival on the international doom stage.

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