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Does just what it says on the tin..... - 88%

byblion, October 29th, 2004

So. What you have in your hands is a digipak CD. It’s by a band called Doomsword and it’s called ‘Let Battle Commence’. The cover has a painting of a belligerent-looking Viking kind of bloke, the songs have titles like ‘Heathen Assault’ and ‘Woden’s Reign’, and the band members have names like Deathmaster and Wrathlord. You read the lyrics and there’s stuff along the lines of ‘The sound of battle horns prepares the storm, Death is coming dressed as a pagan horde’ and ‘I awaited for this glorious moment, I can now enter the fortress crying the charge. My axe cuts some English heads while the city of Jorvik cries its swansong. Captured is the king! Odin guide my sword!’.

Think carefully…now what do you reckon the music might sound like? Got it in one. Suffice to say that if you’re looking for subtlety, sophistication, and postmodern irony you’ve come to the wrong place, bud. The overused word ‘Epic’ springs to mind and stays there, because that is, well, what this music is. Mid-paced, ponderous riffing, operatic vocals, the occasional choir, samples of battle horns, cawing crows etc. etc.

Doomsword’s music is predictable, corny and clichéd, with more than a little cheese in the recipe but, and get this, ‘Let Battle Commence’ is a fantastic CD. The band stride through these tales of battle and death with majesty and confidence, and total commitment. The vocals, by Deathmaster (not his real name?), are excellent, and the whole album is a virtuoso masterclass in metal singing. Rather more Candlemassy than Sabbathy, his soaring voice expresses real emotion in a convincing way. Every musician plays his part with belief – the lead guitar is stellar in places – and this seething stew is complemented by a very strong production which has invested the band’s sound with real power and relentless momentum.

There’s not a weak song on the album, though my personal favourites are ‘Heathen Assault’ (beautiful singing, affecting melody) and ‘My Name Will Live On’ which sends goose pimples up my spine. Music like this depends so much on creating and sustaining atmosphere (without which it is just laughable), and a large part of Doomsword’s artistry consists in succeeding in doing this, so the listener does suspend disbelief and surrender to the tale being told.

I would come out with the old line about this CD appealing only to fans of blah,blah,blah……(you know the names), but the fact is that I myself don’t usually listen to this sort of music because I find it so hard to take seriously. I picked up this CD on an impulse, for a change from my usual fare of more clever-clever stuff, and from the first song was drawn into Doomsword’s world. If I had a bloody axe I’d raise it to the heathen skies and salute Odin, but I’ll have to make do with my two thumbs. Nice one, Doomsword, you’ll make a Viking of me yet!