Spiritus Mortis

Spiritus Mortis

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Some 15 years in the making, Spiritus Mortis' self-titled debut offers an interesting time warp to heavy metal's more innocent days, circa 1988: part New Wave of British Heavy Metal galloping simplicity, part Candlemass-style, melodic doom, and part Black Sabbath-approved primitive sloth. In other words, there's a lot more going on here than one would expect from a self-described, straight-up doom band. Namely, the aforementioned galloping rhythms, which, when they don't charge right through tracks like "Forever" and "Vow to the Sun," regularly jolt initially creeping numbers like "Death Walking," "Forbidden Arts," and "...In Me" into decidedly undoom-like, higher rpms. Eventually, it's the aptly named "Doom Mood" that actually slows down enough to fit the bill, and subsequent offerings like "Flames" and "The Throne Will Fall" are fittingly drenched in bellowing, quasi-operatic vocals, thunderous yet clearly toned guitar riffs, rumbling Rickenbacker bass, and heavier-than-thou drumming. Except for the totally unnecessary, piano-led goth-schmaltz witnessed on closer "Mighty One," this is a solid if largely unoriginal album whose greatest downfall comes at the hands of a rather dodgy production job. Still, for metalheads looking for a retrofitted ride to nostalgia (or a similar take on Sweden's more accomplished Krux), it's hard to resist giving this release a chance, if only to dig on the monstrously chugging grooves and bright chorus of the excellent "Sweet Oblivion."

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