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It has been eight long years since we last had any new music from Howie Bentley, the mastermind of the long-absent Cauldron Born. When I heard he had a new project in the works I was all over that shit, and after a long wait I at long last have the finished album in my hands. Briton Rites is quite different from Cauldron Born, but Bentley's guitar wizardry and dedication to dark, awesome lyrics remain intact.
Deeply inspired by classic NWOBHM bands like Witchfinder General, or (obviously) Black Sabbath, For Mircalla is a riff-feast of epic proportions, with a thick, fuzzy guitar sound ripping out killer old-school riffs and solos. Bentley is all about chugging, ultra-heavy guitars and a pervasive atmosphere of doom and darkness. This is like a distillation of old Sabbath, Gothic Horror fiction, and Hammer movies all stirred in together. There is a solid NWOBHM flair to the sound, but the recording is very slick and clear and it's obvious that Bentley's long experience allows him to get just the right tone. I was concerned about Phil Swanson on vocals, as his voice is a bit iffy, and sometimes he can sound out of place. His voice is particular and only fits certain kinds of music, fortunately, that is this kind of music. I could wish for someone with a darker and deeper voice, but he works.
Packed with epic songs, dark atmosphere, and Howie Bentley's tasty and heavy guitar work, there is just no downside to this album. So not only do you get to feel good buying this for supporting the underground, but you get a killer fucking album as well. Get it, get it, get it.
Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com