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May Require Medication - 88%

BassLord, July 2nd, 2015
Written based on this version: 2008, CD, Shadow Kingdom Records

The Maryland doom scene is about as noted as any other American extreme music Mecca for fostering a certain style, and although they would remain relatively unknown, Asylum were one of its earliest and best bands. While the majority of underground metal bands were getting harder and faster by the mid eighties, Asylum and other like minded acts were going back to the roots of the style to create heavy sounds that paid homage to the past, but also had an eye towards a bleak future.Though they would go on to change their name a couple times and release some good albums, this demo which they created in 1985 is certainly a benchmark release for the scene it came from.

I've always loved metal demos from the eighties, but I must say that this one is truly on another level. Fusing the aggression and heaviness of Motorhead and Sabbath with elements of prog, Asylum were already a very unique band at this point. Right from the start of the group's namesake song, the listener is treated to a massive riff overlaid with mournful vocals that quickly shifts into a schizophrenic freak-out worthy of a straitjacket. The band frequently adopts this approach of bludgeoning the listener only to segue into more progressive territory and then immediately back again. Also being a three piece, the material often features more jam oriented sections which allow the three members to further stretch out in different directions to showcase their abilities. The drumming of future Iron Man member Ron Kalimon is particularly noteworthy.

While the vocals are still in need of some improvement, the band's style is very fleshed out for an act still in its early stages. Also the material leans more on the energetic side of the doom spectrum, ignoring the rather sluggish pace of many of their peers without sacrificing their claustrophobic, doomed atmosphere. "Motherless" is an up tempo rocker with a vibe similar to Budgie, but it is still cloaked in a doomy haze. The riff quality is excellent throughout the release, with the first minutes of "Moment of Truth" not only featuring several awesome riffs, but a seemingly endless series of effortless transitions. As a bonus track, The Shadow Kingdom version has a short but feisty instrumental titled "Moment of Truth II" tacked on to its counterpart for good measure. The main verse riffing of "Bell Witch" is worth the price of admission on its own with vocals that are perfectly fitted to its construction. "Burn" on the other hand offers a more hard rocking style similar to Pentagram on "20 Buck Spin."

Asylum would eventually become Unorthodox, and like several other Maryland doom bands, sign to the German Hellhound label. Unorthodox’s debut would actually go on to be titled Asylum, written like the band's original logo no less. It also has some of the strangest, most off putting artwork I've seen on a metal album. That album is still worth checking out, but the real story begins here with this obscure but powerful release. Shadow Kingdom Records has a knack for re-releasing lost doom classics, and despite its rather long title and the unfortunately generic band moniker, any true fan of doom should find some real substance here.