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Opium Warlock > God Skin > Reviews
Opium Warlock - God Skin

An immersive journey into a deep delirious psych doom sludge universe - 78%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, November 20th, 2023
Written based on this version: 2023, Digital, Independent

Bleed your nose – rot your veins – skin your god – oh, and pulverise your brain with "Godskin", the second album from Prague-based psych sludge doomsters Opium Warlock. From start to finish this recording is an absolute blast of pile-driving sledgehammer rhythms, booming foghorn bass and demented guitars, all topped by two duelling sets of vocals, one a rasping black metal voice and the other a deep death metal growl. What makes "Godskin" special too is that it's the band's first release in just over two years, the last being a split work with American psych rock / stoner / doom act Green Hog. Before the split release, Opium Warlock had been busy putting out several short recordings, mostly EPs, along with one album, in a short period from 2018 to 2020. To see then a new album after two years of inactivity on the studio recording front is cause for celebration for fans of this band! ... er, hmmm, if they visit the MA website ...

The awesome foursome dive into the deep gravelly end with starter "Choke Chain", a thundering piece with the black metal and death metal vocals locked in battle together, trading roars and venom while the guitars push forward with all the force of thick molten lava and shrill, hellish-sounding guitars in delirium. While the voices are terrifying in their loud stentorian tones, much of "Choke Chain" is instrumental with the guitars baying over a steady undulating bass, sluggish percussion and various field recording samples and ambient effects in a spaced-out soundscape. "Heaven's Gate" is even more frightening with vicious screaming BM vocals and a menacing DM vocal counterpart over a soundtrack of continuous flowing metal guitar noise backed by a robust rhythm section tossing out rugged riffs over and over. The mood on this track can be oppressive once the spoken-word samples start gabbling away under high-pitched lead guitar drones.

Much of the rest of the album follows a similar template of songs featuring BM and DM vocals initially, and then focusing on driving up a huge storm of monster sludge doom while ambient effects and spoken-word samples flit through the music like fairy sprites once the main vocals are done. There's good riffing on a number of tracks though the bass is very deep and over-ridden by shrill lead guitar solos resounding through the heavens. With the exception of "Buddha's Dealer", the songs are usually over six minutes in length, allowing for plenty of instrumental jamming and huge fat repeating riff loops. The vocals may cause your blood to run colder than ice but they are very effective in Opium Warlock's chosen genre as their harsh tones contrast with and complement the deep doom and sludge metal aspects of the music. The main highlights of the album are "Heaven's Gate" and "Dopeseeker", both strong and muscular tracks with much dense lead guitar activity soaring over the bass in long jamming passages. The last couple of songs, "Benzodiazepine" and "Steambringer". on the album don't offer much that we haven't heard already, and while they're not especially long songs, they are ponderous and both could have been edited down into shorter pieces without losing the music's power. "Steambringer" especially keeps going with thundering new riffs and rhythms being added almost up to the end of the song.

The black and doom metal elements in the singing and overall presentation add a genuinely malevolent edge to the music. The production is fairly polished though not too much so and the music achieves a good balance between the noisy guitar chord textures and cleaner, clearer elements. The amount and layering of music featured in most songs can be very overwhelming, but it is performed very well and consistently throughout. The Opium Warlock musicians might not bring into their music very original or innovative sounds and ideas but individual performances in the six tracks are filled with energy and inspired motivation. (I'm beginning to think all those guitar tones floating high in the air are secret weapons themselves observing human activity and reporting anything recorded of a dubious nature to entities beyond our known universe.)

When the music is over - and when it's as dense and powerful as Opium Warlock's output, it's over too quickly! - the space between your ears feels very squeaky clean, and said space is more than ready to receive another bludgeoning from the music's replay. While the songs are not very different from one another, and might benefit from a bit more structure to harness and channel their flow and aggression, they boast deep and powerful grinding molten-lava sludge metal with a touch of alien atmosphere of a blissed-out quality. The album is best treated as an immersive journey going deeply into a delirious soundscape through a portal of some very strong pharmaceuticals.

Fans of Electric Wizard, especially of that band's early glory days of "Come My Fanatics" and "Dopethrone", are invited to check out "Godskin" for themselves.