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Lord Vicar is the truest metal band on the planet. The Finns have been slinging riffs since 2007, but were relatively silent since releasing a well-received full-length in 2008. They've been busier in 2011, dropping a couple of splits as well as Signs of Osiris. Just to quell any concerns up front, there is no sophomore slump here.
The band's approach is still pure bluesy doom, as instituted by Iommi. Every aspect of the band's sound is directly inspired by the classic Black Sabbath lineup. The production is heavier, and the vocals are like Ozzy's best moments, but with a fuller voice.
The record starts with an acoustic lick before plowing into the upbeat "Sign of Osiris Slain". In true Sabbath tradition, "Child Witness" breaks in the middle for a jam, with solos from each instrument and some nice turn-taking between guitar and drums. The tempo is dynamic, about 50/50 between faster and slower parts. The riffs are pure blues-doom, but unlike some other adherents of the Sabbath, they don't sound derivative. If you don't start moving in the verse of "Between the Blue Temple and the North Tower", you're dead. And Lord Vicar knows how to craft those riffs and vocal melodies into cohesive, memorable songs.
Two slight curveballs await you later on. With the sad acoustic of "Endless November", they could nearly pull out your heart. Finale "Sign of Osiris Risen" starts on a heavy riff, switches to acoustic guitar with ritual chanting, and then draws on parts from songs earlier in the album to tie everything up in a nice little bow.
The Verdict: If you like traditional doom, you will like this record, no question. If you like Black Sabbath, you will like this record. Hell, I can't conceive of a metalhead who wouldn't like it enough to think this is money well spent. You can't go wrong.
originally written for Doom-metal.com
After three long years, having only heard a quite disappointing Cardigans on a split with Griftegard to tide me over, my favourite post-Rev Biz doom outfit is back. In a fucking huge way. Finally, The Gates of Slumber and 40 Watt Sun get dethroned from 2011's throne of doom.
Signs of Osiris matches the airy, striking painting on its front cover through an appropriately spacious construction. While the debut was a morass, a thundering leviathan soaked in hopeless melancholy, this baby has a bit more of a loose feeling. Fear not, the unearthly weight of Peter Inverted's guitar tone has lost none of its resonating warmth and fuzz, but the songwriting allows for a few more bass-led or acoustic areas, where Jussi Myllykoski and Chritus shine - respectively - stronger than ever.
The album actually opens with the beautiful, twanging acoustic guitar that closed Fear No Pain, before rocking out straightaway with the driving mid-paced rhythms of 'Sign of Osiris Slain' and the follow-up 'The Answer'. Hell of a way to get going, you're more than halfway through the opener before you hear one of those signature slow-burning doom riffs. It fits in with the album's slightly more retro feel, a bit more of the mid-paced rocking 'n' rolling stuff, which itself sounds breezier and funkier, and more psychedelic guitar solos, meaning a definite tip for the stoner/ desert rock crowd. Meanwhile 'Endless November' is entirely acoustic, the guitar (at times reminiscent of Anathema) joined only by Chritus' commiserations and all of it adding to the album's slightly wilder, organic feel.
Peter Inverted still drops plenty of his mammoth, bending doom riffs throughout, on slabs like 'Sinking City' and 'Sign of Osiris Risen' which brings everything together in a quarter-hour epic closer. You have every reason to buy this if you are a doom metal head, especially since towards the album's centre the band start making the Black Sabbath reunion that just happened last weekend even more unnecessary than it already was. The slow, ominous bass creep, muttered vocals and walking drums on 'Child Witness' are as reminiscent of 'Hand of Doom' as they are 'The Wandering Jew' and 'From the Void'. Gareth Millsted's drums are awesome on this track, sounding improvised and as if they were recorded live, especially in the '70s style jam that dominates the middle of the song. The end of 'Between the Blue Temple and the North Tower' reminds strongly of 'Under the Sun - Every Day Comes and Goes' somehow.
Chritus sounds more Ozzy than ever at points, especially with some of his louder or more yelled moments. I should say he sounds like Dan Fondelius, since unlike Ozzy he's holding the note. He whips out some cool, almost choral vocals for the closing 'Sign of Osiris Risen' though, and is still more than capable of the miserable lamentations of Fear No Pain. Particularly for the epic mid-song climaxes of 'Between the Blue Temple and the North Tower'.
The average song length is a little shorter I feel, perhaps a little less imposing, but there's tons going on. Overall it feels like this album was worked over longer than the already great debut, been left to be mulled and mused over by the band, so that the framework of a competent retro doom album could become an early career highlight and one of the best things available this year.