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"He was dragging the cross to the Place of Skulls,
Through a crowd that mocked him with all different ways.
Under the heavy burden he cried for help.
He looked at my eyes. I spat on his face."
Though technically considered an EP, Reverend Bizarre's 2003 release 'Harbinger of Metal' clocks in at a whopping 74 minutes of tortured, crushing doom. Short intro 'Harbinger'- opens the album with crushing cavernous riffs and deep growls, before giving way to the epic and vintage-sounding 'Strange Horizon', in which waves of doomy, despondent riffs settle into a well worn groove, pausing occasionally before kicking back in in a style reminiscient of Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus. Albert Witchfinder's downcast clean vocals fit the song perfectly, his dull tone giving way to soaring vocals when the song demands it. The track lumbers on for nearly 14 minutes, yet never outstays its welcome, ebbing and flowing in a way that feels organic before slowly winding down to the accompaniment of a church organ, giving it a funereal feel.
"He was said to be the saviour, the Son of God.
Somehow he failed to save even his own ass.
Or was it just a question of being a martyr
- An example of justness for the lower class."
Brief interlude 'The Ambassador', consists of spoken word vocals over some guitar picking and a portentous sounding riff, and gently fades away to 'The Void'. This is a mammoth 20 minute track which starts off as mid-paced Sabbath-worship before slowing down further and building around a simple, repetitive ascending riff accompanied by ominous whispers before cavernous crushing riffs plunge the track into funeral doom territory. Momentum builds up slowly then gives way to a lengthy and fragmented drum solo, after which the hypnotic riff is resurrected once more to a background of distant, tortured wails.
"I said, "Keep on moving" as he tried to rest.
He said, "You keep moving too, until I return."
With these words he cursed me, this Nazarene.
And now I am just waiting for this world to burn!"
Monotonous and hypnotic, yet constantly evolving, 'The Void' is appropriately titled, its formidable gravity pulling the whole record down before releasing the listener back into the warmer territory of 18 minute epic 'The Wandering Jew'. Built around another simple repetitive groove, this track recounts the tale of a Jew who cursed and mocked Jesus at the crucifixion, and as a result was doomed to walk the earth until the time of the second coming. It's perhaps the perfect theme for a doom song, and works brilliantly; as the track plods on and on hopelessly, it's hard not to imagine a lone broken figure in ragged clothes, shambling endlessly onwards through the choking dust. The song itself is fantastic, building over the course of ten minutes to a classic stoner riff Electric Wizard would be proud of before returning to its original groove and lumbering slowly onwards towards a lingering and protracted death.
"Forever I wander, forever alone.
Until the Judgment Day I must walk here,
on this piece of shit you call earth.
But I don't fucking care, because the end is near. Ha!"
After a delicate, tool-esque second interlude, the album concludes with a superb cover of Burzum's 'Dunkelheit', easily the best Burzum cover I have heard to date and a rival to the original. The ancient and foreboding distorted guitar sound of the original is captured brilliantly, as are the eerie waterdrop-like keys. Augmented by a more bass-heavy production, the track is played at half speed and trudges on painfully; a hybrid of depressive black metal and doom. Albert offers up more of his trademark doleful singing, which gives way to an excellent rendition of the nervous spoken word parts and jagged, tortured screams originally performed by Varg Vikernes.
"Oh yeah! Jesus cast the spell.
No sign of grace of God; he condemned me to this Hell.
Until the end of the world I have to walk alone.
Dear Lord, I'm asking from you, did you cast the first stone?"
The cover is a fantastic way to end a hugely enjoyable album, which, while offering up nothing spectacularly new, succeeds in weaving together existing elements into a stunning slab of Epic Doom. Highly Recommended!"
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Strange Horizon
4 From the Void
5 Wandering Jew
6 Into the Realms of Magickal Entertainment