HOUR OF 13 “Black Magick Rites”

By The Great Sun Jester

I once read that horror fiction is, at its foundation, rehearsal for a bad death. I believe you can saythat about doom metal as well. It has an entertaining dimension, without question, and its stereotypical confluence of ingredients invariably engages listeners on a physical level. Listeners can find fault with anything Chad Davis, the creative force behind HOUR OF 13’s music, does except his stylistic command. Newcomers will acknowledge seconds into the band’s new album, “Black Magick Rites”, that he understands what doom metal songs need and delivers without fail.

Past releases under the HOUR OF 13 banner featured a revolving cast of collaborators, but Davis plays all the instruments on this release. There are no apparent signs of strain and it achieves an unity of sound and mood. The imaginative terrain will be familiar, in many respects, but Davis’ lyrics avoid the usual bevy of clichés and bear signature touches unique to his work. He isn’t required to remake the musical wheel, but his firm grasp on traditional imagery and subject matter will reassure rather than weary listeners.

“His Majesty of the Wood” opens the album in impressive fashion. It certainly isn’t difficult to hear the expected influences of bands such as BLACK SABBATH and others. I hear a deliberate, near-orchestrated quality in this song. It is constructed in movements and the transitions between eachare handled with seamless skill but, despite this deliberate build, it never sounds false. Davis’ vocals aren’t ideal in a traditional sense, but they are effective, however. He has a forlorn quality, lost. It dramatizes the track with great results.

The arrangement for “House of Death” is more straight-forward without ever abandoning the incremental style of the first song. HOUR OF 13’s music achieves its effects on listeners through a process of accumulation instead of playing all their cards at once; it may seem difficult to believe from a doom metal act but it’s a matter of degrees. Anyone who doesn’t hear the subtle differences between assorted bands in a style isn’t listening very hard.

“Black Magick Rites” has the album’s best riff. It has a hypnotic effect and Davis varies it without ever venturing too far afield of its central musical theme. There is a degree of sameness to this collection... some listeners will embrace the album’s consistency while others will long for more risk-taking, but the steadiness of the material is undeniable. “Within the Pentagram” will bethe peak moment for those enamored of SABBATH’s influence on the music. The vocals break withthat tradition, a strong deathrock influence comes through, and the droning qualities are a good fit with the arrangement.Anyone who loves intelligent and hard-hitting doom metal will enjoy HOUR OF 13’s “Black Magick Rites”. It’s a moody and unquestionably sincere reminder of the genre’s abiding power.