"Death Penalty"

by Octopi Mills

The return of Gary Jennings from the legendary doom band Cathedral is at hand on this album, as it sees the guitar player and riff master general performing for a new formation, that being Death Penalty. The album opens with a short guitar piece that serves as intro and moves to the second track which recalls a sort of old school metal style. The first thing noticed is the female vocals, said to be done by the lady from Serpentcult. The third track "Eyes of the Heretic" also has a old feel, like NWOBHM styled stuff, and a hint of Cathedral riff structure can be found in the music at times. The band does well together with a live sound that would be good for a tavern somewhere in the foggy English countryside after a smoke or some ales. The guitar craft of Jennings is allowed to breathe here, as always should be, and it is great to hear the man again, even if the great and mighty Cathedral have ended. 

"Golden Tides" gives way to some good sounds, though I realize I would be happy just to hear the guitarist playing alone in a basement, and as such my review is biased somewhat. There are plenty of old metal sounding influences, as was in the days of yore once, long ago. Ole Gary bends and marches his strings, commanding vibrations like a cunning wizard, though in a subtle and laid back way that doesnt really blow back your hair in the wind and its not such a storm that picks up your broom and sails it through an open moor in fantastical flight.  In some ways you know the olde genius guitarist is holding back for some reason and being humble. If he wanted, I am sure he could open a vortex through riding riffs that match the electricity of a ten score of war horses galloping in silver shoes. But here we see him being human, like the rest of us, and making some decent music that flows by a certain formula. Perhaps he is being a kid again, rediscovering a lost time or dreamworld. "Into the Ivory Frost" has some sly words and gives way to "Children of the Night", a doom metal ride on a slow and enduring horse, a heavy horse, once explained in a like manner in the words of A.E Waite. The vocals are somehow laid back as well, dreamy at times, and kept simple. The crooning on this song sets a gloomy sort of mood at the end, and this is a hedgerow that should be explored I think to myself while the riff weeps along the same course. "The One that Dwells" opens with a sort of gloomy crooning and weeping strings at the last and "She is a Witch" comes alongside them with the same doomed vibrations, making for a nice placement of these songs.

The next track picks up some wind and opens up with a Motorhead sounding direction, keeping it and wearing it like some old denim jacket. The final song has a sort of happy feel and switches to other moods, all in the style laid before. I applaud the man for returning in such a fashion that sounds honest and humble. If he sticks with this project there should be great avenues laid out for exploration and adventure.