Given that every single doom metal band around owes their very existence to Black Sabbath, the band that started this whole heavy metal malarkey, it’s unsurprising that the scene is full to saturation point, with bands struggling to either out-heavy each other or playing up an ‘occult’ image long past its sell-by-date. Thankfully Dartmoor five-piece The Wounded Kings have no such worries when it comes to standing out, so powerful and masterly is the vein of doom captured on fourth full-length Consolamentum (Candlelight Records), a record of simple yet spellbinding pleasures.
Favouring lengthy yet subtly evolving guitar work outs that never lapse into repetitive dirge territory, The Wounded Kings go about working their dark, smoky magic with grim elegance, building pressure and crucially, good old-fashioned song-writing that makes the prospect of skipping ahead null and void. Opening track Gnosis tips the scales at thirteen minutes but feels like three, as the guitars of Steve Mills and Alex Kearney claim your mind and reap your soul. Equally good are the sinister refrains of Lost Bride, shorter in length but equally devastating.
As she did on previous outing Chapel of the Black Hand, vocalist Sharie Neyland proves herself to be utterly untouchable when it comes to quavering, haunting tones that could charm the skin off a toad’s back. Combined with the aforementioned guitars, pounding percussion, flourishes of Hammond and a living breathing atmosphere that places the listener right there in Baskerville Hall in witch-haunted Dartmoor as candles burn, the wind shrieks and the demonic Hound howls somewhere out there in the cursed night. Simply put, The Wounded Kings are the quintessential English doom band and it’s going to take a very fine effort to better Consolamentum when assessing any future heavy records that happen to be played very slowly. Magical stuff.