Dread Sovereign - All Hell’s Martyrs (Ván Records, 2014)
I didn’t expect such an atmospheric record from Nemtheanga. I anticipated something more in the vein of pre-calculated retro heavy/doom. Although DREAD SOVEREIGN it is made by people knowing their metal lessons, this is nothing like retro.
After the ambiental intro “Drink the Wine” the hit-like “Thirteen Clergy” with its nasal vocals sets the mood for this monolith-album. The aforementioned is the most standard metal song on the record, with crunchy chopped riffs, inspired by Hellhammer, an influence we will meet on other songs too. “Chtulhu Opiate Haze” shows much more I ever dreamed after the listening of the debut mCD. With the resonating bass, tribal drums, a crying guitar and Nemtheanga’s fantastic grunts and cries this song is the real beginning of the journey, because “All Hell’s Martyrs” it is an expedition.
Just do the classic “close your eyes, headphones on” and you’ll step on an incredible voyage. Mostly I do this with cosmic/celestial music, but with Dread Sovereign I have the feeling like I am sinking deep into the Earth’s core. This album is like drilling into the black heart of our planet. The core of the earth is a recurrant theme in Lovecraft’s writings, his story “The Transition of Juan Romero“ deals with the modern man trying to get rid of its contemporary features and searching for the primal. The same intuitive feeling is here.
Very fresh ambient parts are present making connections between songs, sometimes lurking in the background, making this record even more special. There are no reused Candlemass or Saint Vitus riffs here, the only metal influence is possibly Hellhammer, the similar cacophonous and dark approach on the grooves, presented here by the bass. The guitar doesn’t play actual metal riffs, it’s only coloring the palette with leads and harmonies, and plays unusually nice and yearning guitar solos. If I would like to be vulgar, I would say it’s like a mix between Hellhammer and Fields of the Nephilim, but of course it’s so much more here.
Alan’s weird, but serious thematic lyric fits perfectly to his characteristic weeping voice. My favorite is maybe “We Wield the Spear of Longinus” and “Cathars to their Doom”, both musically and context-wise. Most of the songs are around 8 – 10, or even 13 minutes, but each song contains enough elements, so you will not get bored! A lot of religious themes on the album. The Devil, Lucifer, God, the Heretics, Vatican, the Cathars, medieval themes, anyway the dark aspects of mankind, but forget the crappy retro-only image aspect of the up-to-the-minute popular heavy/doom bands. This is much more profound, lyrically developed stuff. War-like marching drums, pulsating bass grooves – in the good sense of the word - , odd harmonies on guitar, primeval blurred ambient parts, Aleister Crowley on the “The Great Beast Speaks”, religious chants and the wailing voice of Alan Averill Nemtheanga takes us on the border of sleep and dream.
Crawling, slow compositions, full of melancholia and misery and pain. I am very happy that Nemtheanga made such a complex, thematic, multi-layered, forward-looking and memorable album. Although the man knows very well the history of heavy metal, this is nothing like a tribute to some old days. It is fresh as hell. It will take a lot of time to get tired of this album. Impressive, haunting, penetrating. Material of the year for me.
Written by Rob