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Saint Vitus, Count Raven and Reverend Bizarre - bands all cut from the finest cloth of traditional doom. They also share a similiar naming device, and by playing into that Lord Vicar might hope to establish themselves as a part of that proud heritage. Not as daunting a task as it might seem. All three aforementioned bands share members with Lord Vicar - Peter Inverted, previously known as Father Peter Vicar, was guitarist for the Reverend, while original Count Raven vocalist Christian Lindersson has the dubious honour of having performed on Saint Vitus' least popular album C.O.D.
Into this rich mythology of traditional doom Lord Vicar weave their own tapestry. The sound is based around the same Sabbath-worshipping framework of fuzzy guitar riffs and enveloping heaviness as Reverend Bizarre, but with an added penchant for sadness and sorrow not common to any of the musicians here in quite the strength found on Fear No Pain. The Lord Vicar is a far more solemn clerical figure than the Reverend Bizarre.
Band founder and figurehead Father Peter's guitar riffs will be of great pleasure to those who miss the Reverend, and the album could well serve as a different side to their sound. Heavy, distorted and exceedingly slow, providing the same excitement when they kick up into melodic guitar patterns accentuating crackling drum fills. Kudos to him for playing in the same style while creating a completely different mood. 'The Spartan', for example, has probably the biggest, the slowest and the goddamned heaviest riff, crushing everything around it in a mile radius, while 'Born of Jackal' and the closing 'The Funeral Pyre' communicate the most sorrow and earthly despair. 'A Man Called Horse' is the most Vitus-referencing, with its cantering stoner riffs and glittering guitar solo.To those familiar with doom enough that they will hear a lot more than just the pace and the heaviness, this is an album with an immersive and lovingly crafted guitar performance by one of the best musicians in the genre today.
Chritus' work here is a massive improvement over his monotonous performance on C.O.D. and even over the reedy sneer he used on Storm Warning. He cuts back on his Ozzy impressions. There is something of a drunken, Zeeb Parkes style wobble to his voice that adds a touch of feeling and emotiveness lacking from other doom albums he has featured on. 'The Last of the Templars' ends with a huge and ominous wail deeper and more resonant than I have heard him ever before, while the end of 'The Spartan' sees him uncharacteristically tender and heartfelt. The lyrics run the full gamut from cool-ass stories about lone riders and Spartan warriors to grim requiems.
Amongst the ton-weight cloud of fuzzy heaviness and the masterful vocal laments are several doleful, pretty acoustic interludes that allow moments of peace and respite, as well as more unexpected touches like distant female backing vocals during the almost Gregorian chant of 'The Spartan's middle. The whole of 'The Funeral Pyre' has almost a country Western feel to it, as well as being the most depressing piece - cleverly written and fantastically constructed. More than almost any other traditional doom band, Lord Vicar excel at creating different atmospheres and moods.
With a career-topping performance and by Chritus and Peter Vicar creating a more layered, complex ensemble of riffs than even his work for Reverend Bizarre, Fear No Pain is indeed a worthy addition to the pantheon of traditional doom.
After the Demon of Freedom EP teaser some months ago, Lord Vicar have returned with their debut full-length, featuring seven new songs (and no overlap with the EP). The style here is well executed early Black Sabbath worship, though you can certainly hear touches of the more contemporary Count Raven and Saint Vitus in the band's name, riffing, and vocals, which makes perfect sense: Chritus did vocals in both those bands. Nonetheless, if you're into this old school doom vibe, Fear No Pain is a good album worth hearing.
"Down the Nails" is a slow, drawling, 8-minute crusher, which immediately lapses the listener into that catatonic yet driven state despair, exemplifying effective doom metal. "Pillars Under Water" rocks forward with a grooving riff you'd expect on an Orange Goblin record, Chritus' Ozzy-like vocals really saturating the song with nostalgic fervor. "Born of Jackal" begins with a graceful acoustic segment that dissolves into glorious, sad melodic doom, followed by the pure, slow rock verse. The rest of the tracks on the album are considerably more epic, longer but never dull. "The Last of the Templars" is beautiful, with some bluesy solos and excellent guitar melodies. "The Spartan" is a tortured crusher, over 10 minutes long with very simple riffing. "A Man Called Horse" is one of my favorite tracks on the album, with flowing, doom grooves and soaring melodies which eclipse the verse guitars later in the track. The album closes with the 14 minute + "The Funeral Pyre", beginning with a lengthy acoustic section with vocals and then kicking some ass with its sparse, depressive riffing.
The mix is quite nice, the guitars are potent, punchy and raw, leaving space for the bass to flow below and percussion to shine. The melodies kick ass and Chritus has never sounded better. If you are a fan of traditional doom metal, starting with Sabbath and 'evolving' into bands like Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, and Count Raven, then it is only natural you should seek this out, because it is a fine example of the form. I'd argue its on par with just about anything Chritus did with his former bands, and very definitely worth checking out because it conveys just the right mix of nostalgia and sorrow.
Apparently, change can be good as well. Fresh from the break-up of Reverend Bizarre (and the half dozen releases that followed), guitarist Peter Vicar returns as "Peter Inverted", ready to once again make the earth shudder from his riffs of doom in his practically self titled band. Vicar brings fellow unsigned doomian Christian Lindersson with him, formerly of Saint Vitus and Count Raven. I wasn't such a fan of ol' Chritus' performance in Saint Vitus, but his vocals in Count Raven were downright Ozzy-like yet still original, so this would be an interesting experience.
Rounding out the lineup of this doom metal supergroup of sorts is drummer Gareth Millsted, known for his involvement in a couple of English doom acts, and bassist Jussi "Iron Hammer" Myllykoski, an apparent newcomer. The two lesser known members of Lord Vicar had a lot to live up to, and while they didn't excel, this turned out to be a good thing, ensuring most of the attention can be spent on Vicar's riffs and Chritus' mournful wails.
With the arrival of this album, it appears clear Peter wanted to move away from the sound and aesthetic of the Bizarre Reverend. Gone are the excessive bass fills and lengthy solos. Also gone are the sometimes tedious repetitions. You'll find no twenty five minute epics on here. Riffs hearken back to old school, traditional doom, more than ever before. The riffs are all crushing and despaired, but not evil, depressive, or dissonant. All of them flow well into each repetition and into each other. Peter's solos are his typical fair, melodic and composed, yet never flashy or overly technical. The overall tempo is also a nice change on "Fear No Pain". While only a handful of RB songs were mid paced, nearly everything on here is a more mid tempo doom song, the most noticeable example being the doomy rocker, "Pillars Under Water" (imagine "Paranoid" done right). Also thrown in for variety is the use of acoustic guitars, most prominently on the fourteen minute epic "The Funeral Pyre". The first few minutes are completely acoustic, with some soft singing and even a falsetto by Chritus.
The second most important aspect of "Fear No Pain" is, as mentioned, Chritus' vocals. Hardly a newcomer to the scene (his work with Saint Vitus was way back in 1993), Chritus' vocals are an incredibly unique form of clean singing. The could again be described as (early) Ozzy Osbourne influenced, but this does not do them justice because they are so unusual and distinctive. I truly hope Lord Vicar continues on for many albums, and Chritus does not deviate from his brilliance on any of them. They are best described as melodic yet mournful wailing, but control is also tightly maintained.
Nearly every aspect of Lord Vicar equates doom metal excellence. Chritus sorrowfully sings about death, history, and Lovecraft, the drums keep rhythm and provide fills, and Peter churns out riff after doomy riff with a new and improved tube-distortion laden tone. Yes, it does not get much better than this.
When you have a band of the character such as Lord Vicar, there's some soft ground to be trodden on. We are essentially facing a doom metal supergroup, with former members of doom essentials like St. Vitus, Count Raven, Reverend Bizarre and Centurions Ghost teamed up together.
Personas who make up Lord Vicar have such a vast and longterm backgrounds on the fields of doom that this seriously begs the question; Is there anything left to offer by this band? Chritus and Vicar have served lengthy and significant tours of duty. Chritus participated in Vitus and Raven during the bands downtimes, or so I've understood. Yet he's got remarkable experience and a past spent with doom metal groups of the highest standing. Vicar, well, I think it suffices to say was the most audacious remnant of Reverend Bizarre.
Musical foundations for Lord Vicar have been laid over the years and it has been an enormous process. It is very much unspeakable to the doom fanatic to embrace the slightest possibility that LV would blow their first full-length effort. Given the cards we've been dealt, this should not stand a chance. With some sneering, this is the Crosby, Stills and Nash of doom.
Lord Vicar's Fear No Pain is altogether good traditional doom metal. There is nothing overtly negative, nothing that bothers, obscures or otherwise disrupts the experience. The arrangements, execution and performance by the members is pristine and worthy of the legacy of their former groups. May be Chritus's voice becomes a liability after sustained listening.
The record shines with examples of some of the toughest and finest shit in terms of true doom to be found. Pillars Under Water is Devil Rides Out and Cromwell allover again. Crushing, infectious riffage, merciless heavy metal pwnage. The final two tracks, A Man Called Horse and The Funeral Pyre instigate such a whirlwind that there's no helping...the aftertaste of this album after the immediate listen is brilliant at the least, orgasmic on the extreme.
The orthodox, loyal and attentive doom metal disciple is faced with an effort that as a one off demonstration of aptitude and excellence is recently unrivalled. But what if you are looking at the first album of a new band, with possibly and hopefully an extensive and fruitful future. Well, then it is unfortunately a major *meh*...
Greatest, most unforgiving and ultimate flaw that is dealing the head shots on this one, is that Lord Vicar could not simply have been anything else than that it is. Fear No Pain has turned out to be painstakingly predictable. It stumbles and fucks up where you expect it to stumble and fuck up. It rocks and pwns you with no mercy just when it should.
Riffage is crushing, the bass is crawling and it's graveyards and crosses...just when it almost grinds to a painful halt, you'll fly like a fucking patrol of angels all over again. It's heavy-fucking-metal, man-o-fucking war, no questions asked.
You can hear all the greatness vested with its makers due to their legacy and background. The influences blitzkrieg you through your speakers, and you arepummeled to the ground by the same rhythms, riffs and barrages that have done so before.
Basically, what we have is a tribute album of the highest order. Good luck for the follow-up...
”Fear no Pain” is the debut full length outing of the Finnish/Swedish/British all-star traditional doom metal act Lord Vicar, featuring Peter Inverted of the now defunct REVEREND BIZARRE on guitars, Hammond and Mellotron, CENTURIONS GHOST drummer Gareth Millsted, ex-SAINT VITUS and COUNT RAVEN singer Christian Lindersson and finally Jussi "Iron Hammer" Myllykoski on bass. WITCHFINDER GENERAL, SAINT VITUS, TROUBLE, PENTAGRAM and to a certain degree CANDLEMASS are known as the first true doom metal bands, influenced by BLACK SABBATH. Lord Vicar is then again heavily influenced by said old school doom metal bands. The announcement of the REVEREND BIZARRE split-up in 2007, resulted in many broken doom metal hearts all over the globe. Unlike many other bands though, REVEREND BIZARRE quit while they still were at the top of their game, and this split-up opened a passage for two new interesting bands; namely Peter Inverted’s Lord Vicar and Albert Witchfinder’s THE PURITAN. Peter and Albert are two incredibly creative souls and 2009 will be a nice year for them both, seeing THE PURITIAN’s first album “Lithium Gates“ is just around the corner.
Fans of REVEREND BIZARRE will immediately recognize the thunderous heavy and groovy wah-ing guitars, creating a crushing wall of sound. While REVEREND BIZARRE’s compositions feature many upbeat sections though, Lord Vicar prefer to maintain a slow pace almost throughout the entire album. This makes Lord Vicar’s music sound closer to SAINT VITUS’ than WITCHFINDER GENERAL and mid-period CATHEDRAL. Few exceptions are to be found though, like the mid-tempo rocker “Pillars Under Water” and especially the 10 minute epic “A Man Called Horse” deserves a mention. This track opens with immensely groovy and up-tempo guitars that churn out quite catchy riffs, without introducing any commercial aspects. In between the fast gallop parts, the song occasionally slows down a lot and introduces pounding rhythms and droned Sabbath-inspired riffing, which will leave no doubt in anybody's mind that this is still doom metal. Around the 3 minute track “A Man Called Horse” surprises with very psychedelic guitar and keyboard solos which add a nice experimental and progressive edge to this very rocking tune.
The main difference between Lord Vicar and REVEREND BIZARRE lies in the atmospheres that the bands try to convey. REVEREND BIZARRE focused more on creating a dark, evil and gloomy atmosphere while Lord Vicar is more concerned about religious aspects of life. For instance, opening track “Down the Nails” is about the Disciple that got crucified after Jesus. He reportedly wanted to be nailed upside down, inverted, and according to the legends he was indeed crucified upside down in the Circus of Nero. Whether the Disciple felt he couldn’t die the same was as his master did or because he wanted a quicker death, is still a mystery, and Lord Vicar convey this ancient atmosphere exceptionally well. Ending song “The Funeral Pyre” is a 14 minute stand out track which could be classified as an ancient sounding ballad. This last song opens with controlled and crisp acoustic guitar work for the first minute and a half, before Chritus joins in with his placid and mournful singing. The electronic instruments kick in after 3 and a half minutes and continues this said and melancholic vibe laid out by the acoustic instruments. About 6 minutes into this colossal tune special guest star Don Angelo Tringali (COLD MOURNING, SLOUGH FEG) plays a fast electric solo and arpeggio, without going over the edge of showing off and flashiness.
”Fear no Pain” is a record that is well worth the time for fans of awesome, unrelenting doom. Plenty of powerful grooves are injected into Lord Vicar’s songs and lush Hammond and Mellotron work in addition to occasional acoustic guitar work are vintage features that bring the listener back to the 70’s when the old masters reigned. The production job is also top-notch and keeps it sounding rough and live while still making all of the tones and performances decipherable.
"Without your love I can't go on..."
Originially written for http://www.northernmetal.info