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In the rectory of the lord vicar - 75%

MacMoney, June 7th, 2010

As all participants probably know already, Lord Vicar is one of the successor bands to Reverend Bizarre, namely the guitarist's, Peter Vicar's, band. His material on Reverend Bizarre albums is rather distinctive with tracks like The Festival, Cromwell and Caesar Forever. Prior to this, he has already made an album of dark progressive rock under the moniker of Orne, but has reserved his doom material for this project. Joining him in the vocals is a well known doom metal vocalist, Chritus, whose old bands include such bands as Saint Vitus and Count Raven so needless to say, there are some expectations on the band.

Those expectations are met; Slow and crushing doom metal in the vein that Peter has done before. It's not alike with Reverend Bizarre in general, but with the more guitar-centered tracks that Peter was responsbile for specifically the latter half of the aforementioned The Festival. The intro is very much in the vein of The Festival's intro. It is a calm, leisurely melancholic piece with a slight sliver of hope showing through sometimes. No chords, just Peter plucking the notes with his fingers. The intro builds up towards its end with other instruments joining in, bass, keyboards and keyboards mimicking a choir. When Becoming One with the Spirit of the Forest kicks in, it's hard not to make comparisons to Reverend Bizarre because the similarities to Burn in Hell! are quite evident. Even if the bass doesn't boom qute as loud in the forefront as Albert's and the riffs aren't quite as drawn out, the similarities are there. The drums pound up a march through the whole song, never letting up. The riffs are rather simplistic, but conjure well enough a certain kind of mix of melancholy and twisted devilishness, fitting for the folkloric werewolf-theme of the album. The bass, as pointed out earlier, is very audible and often goes its own way with little bass fills, though never far enough to lose sight of its main objective; supporting the guitars. The most distinctive part of the song, and the whole EP as well, is Christus and his vocals. He is known for his Ozzy-like high wail and while he definitely wails on Demon of Freedom, the most distinctive part is the double layer of effectized vocals. It is a very peculiar choice making it sound very unnatural while not exactly inhuman. It is another aspect that supports the theme of lycanthropy running that is at the center of the EP. It does create problems too though. With the drums mixed pretty low, they get a bit drowned out by everything else being mixed up. Especially the symbals get muffled and with the crash being used a lot as the backbone of the tempo, it ends up sounding a bit awkward.

The second song, Running into a Burning House is where Peter shows his compositional skills with a song that really detaches the band from Reverend Bizarre. This is nothing like a song his previous band would have done. It has a rapid tempo - as far as doom metal goes - with a cantering beat and a rocking riff, though the vocal lines sound a bit forced and Chritus sounds like he really wants to be done with the stuff. But this is all mainly just to lull the listener to a sense of comfort before the breakdown into a slower and calmer part with an acoustic guitar providing a melancholic atmosphere and Chritus bringing his most desperate vocal delivery. The listener is also treated to two solos by Peter. Actually they are three since the second one features two different lead guitars coming in sequentially - though they do overlap at points - from different speakers creating a very interesting sounding effect. Peter is no technical wizard, or at least he doesn't show it, but the solos are very fitting for the calm part; not flashy, but intense and forlorn. It's these calmer moments where Lord Vicar's strengths lie. When they switch gears into something more emotional, more detailed, more exceptional. These two songs are based around just a couple of different parts with rather simple guitar riffs, so the interspersed, sparse climatic parts would reach even greater heights in contrast. The band manages this fairly well, but the verses do get a bit dreary after a certain amount of repetition even though it is offset mostly by the payoff of the climax.