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He may dabble in odd wares but he's still the Boss - 70%

autothrall, April 13th, 2010

Root has long been one of my favorite bands; their approach to occult black metal is both distinct and unforgettable and this is due largely to the presence of their frontman Big Boss. Though his work in Equirhodont and his solo albums are not quite at the level of Root, they are nevertheless pretty fascinating listens. Doomy Ballads, his third solo work, is no exception, a moody and poetic piece in a diverse range of styles. Sadly, some of the material is mediocre, with the exception of two mighty tracks which moor this album down and make it worth the while.

"The Wind" is a brief, ambient intro with some spoken word accompaniment. "The Cognition" is a building ballad with some bluesy solos, it works well enough to set a tone for the album but it's not exactly memorable. "Solitude" is possessing more mystique, which some doomy guitars, whispers and ambience to accompany its spatial acoustic sorrow. Boss's dark gothic baritone rolls over this morass as if it were a Transylvanian thunder. "Tears of the Ages" is a piano piece with some faint lead guitars and morose Big Boss musings. It's not a bad touch but again, not very catchy. This is all rectified once the first few glimmering chords of "The Ocean" kick in, because not only is this song the best solo Big Boss track I've ever heard, it's the BEST song I have heard yet in 2009. It's sort of like a pop/goth hybrid, with some nice ambiance under the clean guitars, and Boss doing some of the most beautiful vocals I've heard in my life. That this guy is capable of putting out albums like Hell Symphony and The Book and then show this sensitive side, is ample evidence of his quality as a composer and musicians. It's a beautiful track, as he speaks to the subject of the album's title in such simplistic and poetic terms. "You create and you destroy". I was fucking stunned by this song, it's one of those moments where you have to keep replaying it over and over for an hour until you grow sick of it. "The Moment of a Pearl" is a bluesy tune that reminds me of "Knocking on Heaven's Door" or something. Pretty dull. Then the album gets a little more metallic, with the doomy "The End" and the excellent "I Scream in the Dark of Loneliness" with a faster, progressive metal feel. He closes the album with a classical piece "Adagio Cantabile", which isn't bad.

So in the end, this album is worth hearing if only for "I Scream in the Dark of Loneliness" and the hypnotic song "The Ocean". If only he could turn this into a hit single, we might be spared some of the usual radio/MTV garbage. Because it's really that accessible and catchy provided you enjoy the deep gothic style of vocals. As for the rest of it, well, it's just not at the same level, but you need to hear "The Ocean" anyway, so it wins.


Doomy Boring Ballads - 10%

Vaibhavjain, April 28th, 2009

Big Boss is the solo project of the vocalist of legendary Czech band, Root and has not gained as much fame and attention as Root have. Big Boss rolled out their third release silently this year I thought it would create some ripples in the music industry because it was said that Walter would be doing something very different from anything he has ever done in his music life either as Big Boss or as the front man of Root.

The genre of music presented to the listener was quite a shocker actually, with the blackthrash, raw ear pounding attack thrown out of the window and instead being replaced with a combination of down tempo music, piano and acoustic guitars, soft rock and a bit of doom metal thrown in at times. As the title of the album suggests, all of these tracks are "Doomy" ballads.

The music is as unimaginative and creative as the album title. Right from the word go, the 75 second complete waste of an opener entitled, "The Wind" and with lyrics that go "Ah, I love the Wind, love the wind" you know where the album is going. In an attempt to show his mellow side, Jiří Walter, has instead shown a side of his which reeks of uncreative and boring music, a side apparently not known to man. 42 mins of ballads from a man with a baritone like that? Bad Idea. With a baritone like that, you just cannot expect to pull off tracks with just an acoustic guitar and a piano as acquaintances. As tracks go by another thing you realize is the sheer amateur childishness and extremely low quality talent taken from the deepest bowels of the gutter, which has been used to write the tracks. Not only do the lyrics portray an image of an utterly low life organism incapable of writing decent lyrics or creating any atmosphere but almost all of the tracks sound incomplete, the trac! k ending almost suddenly and out of the blue at times. While things look slightly better with the track, "Solitude" (Isn't that an original name for a track on a doom album?), with its heavy riffs, awesome vocals and its chorus that borders dangerously close to a Candlemass song, ah, what was it called? Oh, yes. Solitude. Coincidence ?

It however is a complete downward spiral from there and the album hitting rock bottom with the track "The Ocean" with influences from *shudder* country music *shudder*. Just before the track ends with an outro as much of an abomination as the intro Walter realizes about his other band, the epic, progressive metal band, Equirhodont. "I Scream In The Dark Of Loneliness" is a track which is not only out of place when considered with the rest of the album is progressive wankery at its finest. The thing with all progressive bands is that 99% of them try to be Dream Theater and while not only successfully portraying their lack of creative talent, also make progressive metal of the present times an extremely boring genre. The vocals are out of place here as well. What Mr. Walter thought I have not the remotest idea and I do not even have a slightest intention of knowing.

Jiří Walter has fallen flat on his face with this amazingly disappointing and a failure of a release. This is music (if it falls in that category) of the lowest order taken from the bottom most drawer. It's too bad to even be laughed at and isn't worth your scorn. Even die hard fans of this man, shouldn't bother to check this out if of course they intend not to remain his fans anymore. Yes. it's that bad.

the Barry White of extreme metal - 50%

gk, April 21st, 2009

Big Boss, for those who don't know is the legendary vocalist of Czechoslovakia's Root and also the founder of the Church of Satan in his country. While the man has made a name for himself with Root he's also been prolific with doom band Equirhodont and also as a solo artist. Doomy Ballads is the man's third outing under his solo name and is set to be released sometime during the year.

Big Boss has always been one of the most distinctive vocalists in extreme metal with his baritone being front and centre of some of the most inventive extreme metal of the last decade. Doomy Ballads is a bit of a change for the man mainly because like the title suggests, the album is full of doomy ballads led by his ever impressive voice and the occasional cool lead guitar spot. While the man has the tendency to go all Barry White every now and then with his deep melodic singing voice like on Tears of the Ages, Solitude sounds like it could have been on the last Funeral album while The Ocean has a dreamy pop like quality. The stunner on the album though is the bonus track, I Scream in the Dark of Loneliness which reminds me a lot of Equirhodont and is the song where new guitarist David Uher finally lets rip and shows he’s more than a match for Asok (the Boss’s other ass kicking guitarist from Root and Equirhodont). This is one excellent song with some serious shredding and an upbeat vibe completely at odds with the rest of the material found here. The only song that doesn’t really work here is The Moment of a Pearl which is largely acoustic and seems a bit pedestrian compared to what Big Boss usually dishes out.

I don’t think this album really fits in with anything the man has done before and is generally the most accessible album he’s done. It’s also the dullest album he’s made and has none of the power of Root or the sheer over the top excess of Equirhodont (except for the aforementioned I Scream in the Dark of Loneliness). The songs all tread a middle ground where it’s more doom rock than doom metal if that makes sense.

On the whole though, considering that there seems to be no news from either Root or Equirhodont, this solo outing should satisfy fans of the man. For the rest of you, who’ve never heard of Big Boss or anything he’s done, check out Equirhodont and Root before getting this.

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