By Don S. MacCobb

Devon, UK doom metal veterans The Wounded Kings recently released their fourth album (first for Candlelight Records and second with “new” vocalist Sharie Neyland).  Some stats:  the album features seven tracks with four longer songs and three short instrumentals for a 46 minute ride through the misty moors of fear.

 This is what I love about doom metal, the heavy strains of purest horror.  While I love a good synth soundtrack to my horror, I recognize that I’ve only made that association because of what Goblin and John Carpenter established in the 1970’s.  And forget the string arrangements of Hollywood, this is what a horror soundtrack should be: menacing, shambling and tritonal.  The Wounded Kings speak the language of fear.  Before the point is taken too far however, let’s establish that Wounded Kings’s horror is subtle, it’s certainly not gimmicky and springs from the riffs.  It’s horror of the mind, the stuff that writhes beneath the surface, eliciting visions of what you know is there but cannot see.  Truly, this is fluent, expert stuff.  Four albums in and ten years on, The Wounded Kings are in full command of the weapons at their disposal.

 All this subtle riffery might come to nothing if not for the interplay of the three-headed rhythm section head riffmeister Steve Mills employs.  The trio of Myke Heath (drums), Al Eliadis (bass) and Alex Kearney (rhythm guitar) take the “less is more” approach, allowing Mills to conduct and Neyland to seduce while thundering with gravitas.

 There’s nothing truly innovative here, but there’s much to be said for a band who picks a sound and gets it just right.  If you’re not convinced by the title track that this is booming, soul-rending stuff and well worth three quarter of an hour of your time, then friend you’re simply not ready for doom metal.  For the initiated, this is the kind of album you’ll go back to repeatedly over the long haul, it’s sure to satisfy all your cobwebby needs.