Druid Lord [USA]
Hymns for the Wicked
Horror Pain Gore Death Productions
Florida is the home to many pioneering death metal bands that infused elements of thrash into their music, like Morbid Angel and Death. Yet on the other end of the spectrum, bands like Druid Lord come in years later to crush followers with their heavily doom-laden brand of death metal. Hymns for the Wicked is this Floridian outfit’s debut full length album, and 3 years after its original release, Horror Pain Gore Death Production reissues the album.
Unlike their peers, Druid Lord‘s music on Hymns for the Wicked takes on a mid to slow pace for most part of the album. The heavy psychedelic feel that the band has included right from the beginning of the album helps to bring in a slight stoner/doom feel, with the downtuned guitars and the heavy presence of the bass bearing quite a stark similarity to bands like Acid Witch with the fusion of the aforementioned elements with death metal especially with song titles like Witchfinder. The riffs of Pete and Ben are crushing, and to top off the entire chilling experience of Hymns for the Wicked, the lead guitars of Pete are often haunting and pierce through the otherwise muddy sound on the record (which honestly, isn’t a bad thing with music such as Druid Lord‘s). Steve’s drumming, while setting the slow pace doesn’t let up on the heaviness with which he punishes his kit with, providing lots of the power in the music.
The crushing intensity at times can be compared to bands such as Japan’s Coffins, though Druid Lord seems to have a more emotional take to the genre, especially with the lead guitar works of Pete, who at times put in some broody guitar solos like on Witchfinder. This however doesn’t discount his abilities on the guitar as the variety of emotions that his solos are able to invoke displays his versatility. For instance, songs like Castle of Count Sadist see him go crazy on his fretboard, coming up with some of the most chaotic solos on the album, causing some sense of panic within the listener.
As already mentioned, the entire progression of the album is rather slow, and the elements of classic doom get pretty clear as the album progresses. Apart from the usual Black Sabbath influence that rears its head at times, there are also moments where bands like Candlemass and Celtic Frost are brought to mind like on Gorgon Witch. Top that up with a suffocating atmosphere that lasts throughout the album, Hymns for the Wicked manages to be heavy, yet catchy as hell at the same time without compromising any aspects of their music.