Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2021
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Man doom - 80%

gasmask_colostomy, December 2nd, 2020

Doom metal has several strains that bear enumeration here, with examples: classic doom (Trouble, Saint Vitus), doom death (Paradise Lost, My Silent Wake), epic doom (Solitude Aeturnus, Argus), gothic doom (Draconian, Saturnus), and a few others that don’t require mention. Why this list? Because River Of Souls precisely position their sound so that I have trouble working out what kind of doom band they are, and even whether or not they can truly be called doomy. In a similar way to Argus and Grand Magus, much of the aesthetic of the Dutch bunch just smacks of proper heavy metal done with balls, although I suppose a strong leaning towards harsh vocals offer more support to the notion that The Well of Urd peddles doom death. If I could be permitted to sum it up in a different way, River Of Souls fit that specific niche of “man doom” alongside the aforementioned bands, thanks to powerful delivery matched with their world-weary attitude.

I mean, listen to the belting chorus of ‘Earthfather’ (and don’t ignore that very pagan name either) for absolute roaring masculinity, as though Bart de Greef were literally shouting into a wind of freezing rain and snow, chest bare and heaving with raw emotion. These guys aren’t afraid to go to both extremes, opening ‘The Unbending One’ with raging death metal riffs and harsh screams, then winding down to gentle clean palm-muting within a minute or two, cranking back through the gears to arrive at the same relaxed intensity as elsewhere. That last oxymoron was designed to show how masterfully the quartet balance opposites on their debut, keeping melody present during heavy sections by the use of dual guitars and some hooky riffing, then turning on the feelers when proceedings become musically quieter. The rise and fall across the 50 minutes of The Well of Urd proves one of its greatest strengths.

Of course, with only 6 songs spanning that time, complexity is one of the album’s watchwords. Getting to grips with the changes of action will take a bit longer than some bands, which makes River Of Souls good to come back to at regular intervals rather than dip in and out of. Structurally, the songs that exceed 10 minutes rely on forward momentum rather than cyclical ideas, even if repeating sections make themselves felt in the end. That rolling momentum itself may just be the best recommendation for The Well of Urd, particularly as the guitarists unleash quite a diversity of riffs in the crescent of doom styles mentioned above; rarely does a minute go by when a new foot-pounder or head-bobber fails to crop up, and the slight increases of pace benefit from dynamic drumming to make full impact on the listener.

The main consideration that holds back this debut album for me comes in the form of an extremely strong sophomore effort, which arrived about 6 months ago. Consistent focus and creativity number among the properties that Usurper possesses and The Well of Urd doesn’t quite achieve, meaning that moments do exist during this listen when I find myself wondering how I got to a particular point in a song and whether anything will happen to lead the experience back on track. Thankfully, positive revelations often occur, making the first River Of Souls venture a successful one, if not the finished product.