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Rose Kemp : Golden Shroud

Unfairly overlooked amidst the retro-occult boom, Rose Kemp's 2010 Psych/Drone offering more than holds its own.

Rose Kemp is a singer-songwriter from the United Kingdom who seems to be most well-known as being the daughter of Maddy Prior and Rick Kemp (members of the group Steeleye Span). As her parents were known for making Folk Rock back in their day, it seems as though she initially came out to follow in their footsteps. She started her solo work with an Acoustic Folk album entitled 'Glance' at the age of 19. With time, she began to take on a more diverse palate; mixing Alternative and Psychedelic elements into her Folk roots. By the time of her third album, 'Unholy Majesty', she pursued an eclectic mix of Folk, Psychedelic Rock, Alternative Rock, and even a little bit of Doom Metal.

This fourth album, 'Golden Shroud', shows Kemp dropping the former three discussed elements to go directly for the lattermost. The music here lies somewhere between Traditional Doom and Drone Metal. The riffs are repetitive, minimal, and incredibly heavy. Feedback and the droning bass and guitar lines blare with a deep, grungy tone. Drums are a main component in the mix, but they mostly repeat the same lines to create the same kind of mechanical repetitions that one would hear from the earliest releases of Earth. What truly makes the twist in the music is the versatile and charismatic voice of Kemp.

Kemp is a very unique singer, without a doubt. Her voice reminds me of Agnette M. Kirkevaag of Madder Mortem or Uta Plotkin of Witch Mountain. It sounds dramatic, intense, and almost operatic at times. The singing adds an epic touch to the simplistic accompaniment, which keeps it from sounding too rough around the edges. A unique factor that plays into the music is the usage of barbershop quartet-style choral vocals, which are featured at the beginning of each track. They are incorporated in a way that is meant to be tongue-in-cheek and silly. It adds a particularly comedic touch to opening track, 'Black Medik II', in which the layered voices open the album by singing "FUCK! How will we ever stop it NOW!?".

Aside from her flexible clean voice, Kemp also throws in some growls and screams at times. The first half of the monstrous 17-minute track 'Blood Run Red' features a long, monotonous riff with some deep, yet subtle, growls. This builds up to a more up-tempo section with Kemp repeating the line "Make the blood run RED, RED, RED!", with the tempo and lighter mood lying closer to typical Stoner Metal.

Out of all three of the tracks, my favorite is easily the closer; 'Lead Coffin'. It lies the closest to typical Drone Metal. Sparse drumming, a repetitive and sinister riff melody, feedback, and Kemp singing folky lines about war make up the first half of the track. It reminds me much of Asva's first album, when they featured the intense operatic singing of Jessika Kenney over some monstrous Drone riffs. The track builds up to a climactic mid-tempo riff, which simmers down to a calm closing section of clean guitars and more quiet, solemn lines from Kemp. It's an effective way to close an album; going from heavy and brooding riffs, to a calm, clean conclusion. "Our ribs will open, spew forth dimensions, sound, and vibrations when you give us hope" is sung by Kemp as the guitar reverberate a calm, clean melody, ending the album on a lighter note.

In the end, it truly is a mystery to me how this album was never given much attention. Around the time of its release, there seemed to be this huge boom of Doom/Psych Rock bands with female vocals, following in the path of Jex Thoth and Blood Ceremony. Although I find Kemp plays a much rawer and drone-infused style, I feel 'Golden Shroud' is very much worthy of the praise that was given to the bands who came around during the beginning of that trend.

Regardless, this album won't be for everyone. For those wanting to hear some accessible, flowery Psych Doom, this will be way too heavy and harsh for your liking. For those who want to hear relentlessly heavy Drone Doom, this will be too busy and accessible. However, those who would be interested in hearing a happy medium between Traditional Doom and Drone Doom with intense female vocals, look no further than Rose Kemp's 'Golden Shroud'.

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Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. Black Medik II
2. Blood Run Red
3. Lead Coffin

Duration : Approx. 43 minutes

Visit the Rose Kemp bandpage.

Reviewed on 2017-03-11 by Dante DuVall
Aesthetic Death
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