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Druid Lord : Hymns for the Wicked

Druid Lord could be seen as a literary version of Hooded Menace.

Old-school Death: the word has been on every lips these last few years, partly thanks to a label like Razorback Recs that has unleashed some ugly beasts on the scene. The movement has since expanded quite well, with many bands claiming their love for Incantation, Adramelech, Obituary, Autopsy or Asphyx. Among them, Hooded Menace won the jackpot with their exclusive use of the zombified hooded templars from the (now better known) Italian movies series; Hooded Menace also got the brilliant idea of chaining the rusted cast-iron ball of the most unhealthy Doom to the ankle of their muggy Death. The cocktail was explosive and íFulfill The Curseí scored some good brownie points when it was released.

Itís not a review about Hooded Menace, though. Here we meet Druid Lord, a new combo from the U.S. Inserting a bit of the ĎHooded Menace-conceptí in it can help drawing the outlines of the band though, for Druid Lord follow in their footsteps. They manage to stage the same kind of tightrope act, between Doom and Death, but in another circus, and in another town. Their breath is less repulsive, the moods drier, colder. You wonít be given any putrefied zombie; their meat is shrivelled, the arid atmosphere stings your throat. Itís nervous and straight.

You could draw another parallel from both bandsí intentions: whereas Hooded Menace pay tribute to a certain cinema, play with evocative samples, Druid Lord are obviously particularly fond of those little scary stories you read on the edge of your bed when you were a child, in the pale light of your pocket torch, to keep the parentsí curiosity asleep. Each track is based on a story told with a voice from beyond the grave - a raspy grunt, rather understandable and accentuated by a vivid instrumentation. It progresses on a literary blueprint: some droning notes like elipses, some short ghastly leads like a sudden revival of the plot; some twists and turns, some arpeggios and crunchy riffs like discreet minor characters passing by.

The album is full of these spooky stories, short-stories that are played with a great feeling, no emphasis on the horror-aspect. To the obscenity that usually goes along with those kind of imagery, the band prefers a dry writing, full of finesse that wonít eclipse the groove either; because you have a lot of it: itís syncopated, psychedelic at times. Druid Lord's music can swallow you in its groovy vortex. But, if I were to reconnect with my comparison, they manage also to sound meaner and far more serious than Hooded Menace... for the simple fact that they refuse the grotesque, they wonít lay it on thick.

Itís an eventful first album, and I canít recommend it enough to the many people who like the aforementioned bands and have kept enough of the old fascination for secret dungeons, dark caves, haunted castles and the dripping, crawling horror that inhabits them.

Reviewer's rating: 7/10


Tracklist :
1. Chamber of Ghastly Horror
2. Witchfinder
3. Castle of Count Sadist
4. Awaken by the Dead
5. Baron Blood
6. Eerie Ways
7. Gorgon Witch
8. Circling of Vultures

Duration : Approx: 35 minutes

Visit the Druid Lord bandpage.

Reviewed on 2011-02-08 by Bertrand Marchal
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