By Dr. Abner Mality

Doom as true as doom can get! So let it be written, so let it be done. With origins stretching back to 1987, a year when doom metal arguably blossomed into a full sub-genre, SPIRITUS MORTIS have earned the right to be as old school as they want. Predating even REVEREND BIZARRE and SKEPTICISM, they were the first Finnish doom band. And on “The Great Seal”, they’ve served up the doom equivalent of comfort food.

The biggest change here is new singer Kimmo Perämäki, who steps in the shoes of Albert Witchfinder. And those are pretty big galoshes to fill. Fear not, Kimmo has a classic doom voice, very much in the vein of Johan Langkvist and Robert Lowe of CANDLEMASS fame. Clear and melancholy, with a lot of emotion and range when needed. He slips into the band without a twitch or doubtful moment. As for the rest of the band, they play doom that is steeped in the godfathers like BLACK SABBATH, CANDLEMASS, COUNT RAVEN and PENTAGRAM. Anybody who likes those bands will dig this to the utmost.

It does sound very familiar, no getting around it, but in such a classic way. “Puputan” opens with more pace than you would expect and is an example of “aggressive doom”, like the faster songs from TROUBLE or CANDLEMASS. “Martyrdom Operation” is a different beast, with more of a kind of bluesy grind that is dark and heavy. “Skoptsy” and “Khristovery” just jam and wail away, with great vocals from Kimmo and great solos from Kari Lavila.

“Visions of Immortality” is the heaviest and most ponderous of the tracks, while “Feast of the Lord” starts with well-trod SABBATH/PENTAGRAM riffs before veering off into a more bluesy realm. That leaves the foreboding “Are You A Witch?” to wrap things up...delicate yet dark on the verses, giving way to heaviness on the chorus and allowing plenty of room for Iommi-ish shredding.

“The Great Seal” is the pork chop and applesauce of doom metal. Or substitute the comfort food of your choice, as long as it’s satisfying and heavy.