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Album of the Year 2016 - 100%

Mitchfynde, January 9th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2016, Digital, Svart Records (Bandcamp)

What is your favorite sub-genre of metal? If you answered traditional doom metal, here is your album of the year for 2016. To put it simply, this is one of the greatest traditional doom records ever released.

Spiritus Mortis were the first doom metal band in Finland, but not the last. If you are a fan of traditional doom metal, there is no doubt that you’ve at least heard of Reverend Bizarre. In my eyes, they were the pinnacle of traditional doom. It was hard to imagine anyone coming near the majesty they have produced... that is, until now.

You see, when Reverend Bizarre split up, Spiritus Mortis happened to be looking for a lead singer. Sami Hynninen AKA Albert Witchfinder heard the call and the rest is history. The first record they did together was excellent. Sami was a perfect fit with his dramatic semi-operatic delivery. He’s even better on this record. In fact, the entire band is.

Now, to put aside the hype for a moment, there is nothing groundbreaking or new on this record. Doomsters will be perfectly familiar with the formula for traditional doom metal. That’s not what matters here. It’s the performance and the songwriting that is truly spectacular.

Sami’s vocal delivery has changed. He went from his lower ranged signature style to a bit of a higher range. He somehow managed to change the whole vibe of his clean vocals with just a bit of tweaking. Not only that, but there are parts on the record where his voice is very gritty. There are even a section or two where harsh vocals are used very tastefully.

The riffs here are just fucking fantastic. Often slow and depressive, but not afraid to transition into something mid-paced and triumphant. Some sections are a bit less doom and a bit more straight up heavy metal. The contrast may be subtle, but it makes the slow bits all the more powerful.

The lyrics and themes on here (along with the strong vocal delivery) are one of the big highlights. Again, it’s not rocket science. It’s the same stuff trad doom bands have been doing since the dawn of time, but it’s done better than most bands have ever done it. The themes are mainly of death and the occult, but there is a certain tongue-in-cheek sense of humor (reminiscent of Minotauri and, of course, Reverend Bizarre themselves) which gives the really corny bits a dose of self-awareness that cuts back the cheese.