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Wardenclyffe : Control All Delete

A delicious blend of Doom and Metal marks Wardenclyffe's intelligent full-length debut.

As a small curio, Wardenclyffe's demo from 2012 deserves a bit of a mention first of all. Released as a 'Soundtrack' to guitarist and vocalist Jacob Nordangård's doctoral thesis on "The Political History of Biofuels in the European Union", it can be safely assumed, as is claimed in their current release statement, 'it was probably the first doctoral thesis with a doom metal cover'. Whoever said metal was one dimensional?

To the present day then. Or rather, January earlier this year, when Wardenclyffe released this, their debut album, 'Control All Delete'. As may be surmised from the above, the band deal with concepts. If you've spotted the band name, taken from Nicola Tesla's experimental facility in New York from the early 1900's, and you're vaguely - or otherwise - familiar with the Serbian scientists' life, work, and legacy then the lyrical substance and content of 'Control All Delete' will be no suprise. Tesla was another of those wonderful characters from the 'fin de siècle' period whose abilities were either applauded as genius, derided as nonsense, or perceived as heretical threat to the status quo. Probably in fairly equal measure.

After an extended guitar based intro, 'Orcadian Dream' kicks the album off in suitably stately and bombastic fasion. Crunchy, mid-paced, palm-muted metal reminiscent of everyone from Manowar to Maiden blasts forth and gives a taste of one half of the album's genre coin. Traditional Heavy Metal. Polished leads interplay with the vocal lines, which relay stories of mind control, the fall of man, a smattering of science, and the politics of fear. All good doomy stuff. And that's the second half of the musical penny. Traditional Doom in the vein of Solitude Aeturnus, Cathedral and, of course, Candlemass. Amen to all of that.

It's an engrossing start to the album both musically and lyrically, yet it's not until 'Merchants of Doom' where things really begin to kick off and perhaps more importantly, take some transformative shape, musically speaking. The mid-paced rhythms that have, until now been dominant, give way to greater feel, variation and dynamic. (Their drummer clearly knows what he's doing, no question). There's some lovely, slow double-bass drumming underpinning sections of songs which will undoubtedly get heads nodding. Slower, Doom-ridden sections where twin melodic leads collapse and begin to wail, scream and howl out their disdain for the present situations mankind has found itself facing, harken back to the very beginings of Metal itself. Vocally, there's a split between the cleaner singing and the harsher elements which are strikingly reminiscent of Michael Akerfeld on Opeth's earlyish releases and, come to think of it, penultimate track 'A Journey Through The Major Arcana' has strong (early/mid) Opeth pretensions.

Where and why Wardenclyffe score as highly as they do is as much to do with their musicality, composition and delivery as it is with the subject matter. The progressive elements of the songs prove their musical chops are beyond any doubt, and the production is fitting too. It's neither too lo-fi or overtly slick, and it gives the album a gutsy, forceful quality. As debuts go, it's far more than just a decent effort.

Wardenclyffe are obviously no fools, either in their music or in their conceptual ideas. The album's packaging, artwork and lyrics are littered with words and images blending the scientific with the occult. Which is where we came in, I believe. Nicola Tesla. Genius to some, blasphemous and heretical to others. Just as Metal should be.

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Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
1. World Sensorium Pt 1
2. Orcadian Dream
3. Everlearning - Neverknowing
4. Merchants Of Doom
5. Macroshift
6. A Journey Through The Major Arcana
7. Externalization Of The Hierarchy

Duration : Approx. 40 minutes

Visit the Wardenclyffe bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-05-10 by Matt Halsey
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