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Solid ideas, less than stellar execution - 70%

Jophelerx, April 2nd, 2013

I have to give Realmbuilder credit in the capacity that they tried their darndest here to create some quality epic heavy/doom metal a la Manilla Road and Quicksand Dream; the fact that the band has only two members is pretty impressive, but it would be a lot more impressive if the music were actually competent. As it stands, the music sort of plods along listlessly, with some good ideas thrown in but not fleshed out enough to make any one entire song worthwhile. The soloing especially tends to be quite good, but the repetitive, quickly stale riffs and Czar's lackluster vocal performance make the album difficult to digest enjoyably.

Czar's vocal performance here doesn't sound much like anybody else; it's very nasal and timid, almost whiny - if he were a bit more confident, perhaps it would sound better, but it is what it is. The production is good, thankfully, with a nice meaty guitar tone and vocals that are up front but not overwhelming - although, given the vocalist, that's not necessarily a good thing. The drums are deep and crunchy - everything as it should be, except for the songwriting, really. At times it feels quite epic, but the songs sound haphazard, as if pieces of a puzzle shoved into the wrong places so they don't fit quite right, but still maintain some semblance of continuity at first listen.

Certain areas, like the vocal multi-tracking in "Silver Ziggurat" and the main riff of the title track, are very well done and very pleasurable to listen to, but it's just not enough to save the album from its seemingly random meandering. Perhaps if the band members had spent a little more time on it, it might have stood among the ranks of epic metal like Quicksand Dream and Longings Past, but such is simply not the case here. Some songs are better than others, but none are really more than decent; "Bow Before the Oligarchy" manages not to have too many shitty moments, but neither is it really outstanding; the same is the case with the title track. The other songs are for the most part unmemorable; not really offensive but not really something I'd actively want to listen to, either. Overall, Realmbuilder's debut isn't a total flop, but not far from it either - there's definitely room for improvement here, which, thankfully, is met on their second album. If you're a fan of the epic heavy or doom genres, skip this album and move right onto Fortifications of the Pale Architect. If you're a true collector, buy this album for the artwork, as it's quite good, and certainly the best thing about it.