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Review: The Doomsday Kingdom – ‘The Doomsday Kingdom’

The Doomfather is back! It’s been a while, but Leif Edling has returned to take back his throne from the young pretenders squabbling over it. The Candlemass founding member created The Doomsday Kingdom during a debilitating bout of chronic fatigue that left him housebound. We all know the healing powers of music, and this project is living proof of that. A veritable smorgasbord of dark, brooding doom metal with a dash of NWOBHM  thrown in. Add a sliver of classic metal, and you’re still only halfway there. Fans of Dio, Black Sabbath, and Judas Priest will lap this sucker up. Less sludgier than many other doom bands, this is fifty quality minutes of metal.

Take opener ‘Silent Kingdom’ for instance. Iommi-sized riffs and classic power metal vocals hint of one direction, then the gloomy backing vocals and Iron Maiden galloping guitars come in, and the song heads off the other way. Wolf vocalist Niklas Stalvind handles the vocals on ‘The Doomsday Kingdom’, his voice a stunning mix of metal gods Dio and Halford. Capable of hitting the high notes with ease, but also mastering the more earthy tones that Dio made look so easy, ‘The Never Machine’ is a perfect showcase of his talents. ‘A Spoonful Of Darkness’ will have fans of Dio weeping tears of joy, think ‘Straight Through The Heart’, in particular the “Shout to the wind, how can you hurt me this way” verse. Avatrium’s Marcus Jidell consistently impresses with his mammoth chords and riffs. His playing is stunning without being flash, proving yet again that you don’t need to shred to make your point. The acoustic instrumental ‘See You Tomorrow’ serves as beautiful time out from all the power. It’s a gorgeous and haunting composition from Edling that lives with the listener long after it fades out. ‘The Doomsday Kingdom’ is also well paced and ‘See You Tomorrow’ is a classic bridge from side one to the flip side on the vinyl version. Back in the day, if you heard a song like it, then you knew that any minute you would have to get your arse up and turn the album over.

“Side two” opens with ‘The Sceptre’, a seven minute romp that could have been an outtake from ‘Rainbow Rising’. Throw in a prog-tastic mid section, some mythical lyrics about red queens, swords, castles and warriors, and I’m back in my bedroom some decades ago, trying to convince my mum that that smell really is just incense. It’s even got a gong crash to end on! If ‘The Sceptre’ is ‘Rainbow Rising’, then ‘Hand Of Hell’ is ‘Heaven And Hell’, complete with a fantastic chugging guitar intro that is pure ‘Neon Knights’. Edling lays down some slabs of beef with his bass, and makes for a formidable engine room team with drummer Andreas Johansson (from Narnia… the band, not the wardrobe). Johansson also gets his moment in the spotlight with ‘The Silence’, a great seven minutes for frustrated drummers everywhere. Again, the vocals from Stalvind are staggering as they change from screams to softer spoken words. In places, he brings to mind Geddy Lee during Rush’s earlier period. Closing track, ‘The God Particle’, is a nine minute behemoth that needs to be experienced lying down in a darkened room with headphones on. Such a strong mix of fragile vocals, mind blowing riffs, and pounding rhythms. At no point does the listener’s mind wander, as it can do on many a track this length. The headphones may pick up some shimmering chords in the background that echo Zeppelin’s ‘No Quarter’. These, along with a monstrous organ sound half way through, add to the mystical qualities of the track.  Epic in so many ways.

Edling has confirmed that The Doomsday Kingdom will indeed perform a handful of live shows. With the band members having other commitments, more live shows might be few and far between. Considering how strong this debut is, count yourself lucky if you have a ticket already.

Available now through Nuclear Blast records.

 

Review: Dave Stott

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