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Dad doom - 75%

gasmask_colostomy, December 20th, 2018

Claims exist of Spiritus Mortis being the first Finnish doom metal band. I don’t mean to contradict those claims, since forming in 1987 seems to beat most other groups in the local scene, it’s just that releasing their debut album in 2004 puts this five-piece slightly out of the way in terms of precedence. Why didn’t they get an album out earlier? A head-scratcher, really. In any case, those connecting Fallen with Reverend Bizarre and the rest of the later groups had better get their facts straight, because Spiritus Mortis don’t play that way, no sir. Much more ties the slow grooves and soulful vocals to the earlier tradition of dark hard rock that informed Pentagram and Witchfinder General.

Indeed, the album doesn’t dwell in darkness nearly as much as the group’s aesthetic might suggest, rocking out solidly at times with a powerful rhythm guitar tone pulled straight from the early ‘80s, dry bassy grooves and all. Therefore, it won’t cause much surprise to learn that the Finns had been demoing some of this material for several years (some of it more than once, such as ‘Divine Wind’, which shows up on the ’94 and ’97 recordings) and that the general style is old-fashioned for 2006, when Fallen eventually brought the ideas to light. A split character reveals itself in the song titles: if the composition has a sinister name, you will also find sinister riffs backing up Vesa Lampi’s slightly evil vocals, though he also sounds like the singer from Black Stone Cherry on more than one occasion.

Therefore, it should be clear that ‘Something Came and Killed’ and ‘Sleeping Beneath the Lawn’ have the creepiest musical segments of the release, the piano intro of the latter and flattening Trouble riff that follows proving one of the most gripping moments. However, other songs that you expect to be dark don’t materialize as such, ‘The Omen’ troubling itself with nothing more complicated than just rocking out, while ‘Beware of the Quiet One’ turns away from the mowing riffs of its first half to end up somewhere closer to an organ-fueled ‘70s rocker flowering from the same tree as ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’. That isn’t the only occasion Spiritus Mortis make use of organ, bringing it back for the closer ‘Goodbye’ – a proper ballad also featuring piano and dramatic, emotional vocals; the slithering mellotron present during ‘All the Words Were Spoken’ achieves the status of main focus alongside the guitars.

Fallen exhibits a band caring little about the general principles of doom metal and focused more on the task of writing catchy songs, no matter the ingredients. The vocal harmonies and rock ‘n’ roll structuring in several songs give the music a certain old-time charm that makes it difficult to resist to any but the most conservative extreme metal fan. To give you another way to think about this, your dad should be able to find a doom metal band he likes if you present him with a copy of Fallen. I’m not judging your dad, but – just sayin’.