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Rote Mare : The Kingdom

Rote Mare has just released two albums at the same time making them a diptych that one has to consider as a whole - and as one essential Doom release.

At first, I thought that my CD had a problem. In fact, I thought I simply hadn't played the right CD. Because the opening of 'The Kingdom' is a fine, classic Heavy Metal riff, with one of those high-pitched screams that wouldn't have been out of place on a US Power Metal record in 1985. But quickly, the Doom came in, albeit with a twist.

The Australian band Rote Mare should be known to everyone around here by now, if for nothing else than their excellent debut album 'Serpents Of The Church'. Today, the gang deliver two albums, released more-or-less at the same time; they are two parts of a single concept. Yet, this is not a double-album, nor is this an awful experimentation like 'Use Your Illusion' was. In fact, both albums can be seen as the two sides of the same coin, and can be listened to separately without even taking the other into account. However, considering I've received both records, I'll put them in a single review – this is also justified musically.

Both releases expand the musical horizons of Rote Mare. The basis is still Traditional Doom in the vein of the Great Old American Ones, but there are now some inclusions that betray the influence of a certain Swiss band: actually, Celtic Frost's influence is so strong in certain tracks (like on 'The Kingdom') that vocalist Phil Howlett manages to imitate the weeping vocals of Tom G. Warrior to near perfection (and in fact, in more than one instance, he even sounds like French vocalist S.A.S. De l'Argilière (from Misanthrope)...Weird...). But the identity of Rote Mare never gets lost under those layers of new influences, and tracks like 'The Stones Of Blood' or 'Nothing' (with their easy-to-grasp melodic lines and hooking choruses) are a perfect illustration of Rote Mare's capacity to deliver a great modern take on the Traditional recipe of Doom Metal.

Cementing those old-school vibes with a modern sound, on 'The Invocation' you'll find a great cover of the song 'Holocaust' by Big Star: the rendition is great, the song being turned out to the point where you could mistake it for a genuine Rote Mare's track.

As 'The Invocation' opens with 'The Kingdom', so 'The Kingdom' ends with 'The Invocation'. But this tongue-in-cheek approach doesn't hide the fact that 'The Kingdom' is rawer in sound, with heavier and more memorable riffs. The way the songs are composed this time still harkens back to the days of Celtic Frost, but with a twist. For if 'The Invocation' was Rote Mare's take on 'To Mega Therion', then 'The Kingdom' is closer to 'Into The Pandemonium'. Of course, there is not the same level of experimentation here, but the eerie keyboards of 'Shadow Of The Grave', the dissonant riffs of 'Shameless' (a song bordering sometimes on pure Noise Rock) or the psychedelic solos on 'The Thief' (not mentioning that, despite being quite melodic, this very song is also graced with some insane shrieks from Phil Howlett which, curiously, never feel out of place), all showcase a great deal of trying something new with an old sound. Even the hidden Twisted Sister cover song is somehow quoting Celtic Frost covering Wall Of Voodoo.

Perhaps this is what makes both albums so difficult to review as separate entities. Because, when you listen to both in a row, you can hear the subtle progression that makes 'The Kingdom' the obvious follow-up to 'The Invocation'. This wouldn't have felt the same if these had been released together as a double album, or as two separate albums with a large interval between them. You have to do the work all by yourself: trust me, these albums do conceal some worthwhile secrets under their belts, and you'll need to give them more than one spin to truly begin to grasp all the details of that musical rollercoaster. Together, 'The Invocation' and 'The Kingdom' are the magnum opus of a band that has never ceased to surprise me over the years. And this is exactly what make them one of the essential Doom releases of 2013.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Shadow Of The Grave
2. Shameless
3. The Thief
4. The Funeral Void
5. Suicidal Slayer
6. The Invocation
7. Destroyer (Twisted Sister cover, bonus track)

Duration : Approx. 60 minutes

Visit the Rote Mare bandpage.

Reviewed on 2013-08-08 by Laurent Lignon
Aesthetic Death
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