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Deep River Acolytes : The Hour Of Trial

The debut full-length from Finland's Deep River Acolytes is a powerful classic-Metal-inspired offering.

It is remarkable how trends and styles come and go in music. It seems that the longer one puts in the effort and time as a music lover, the greater the reward. Sooner or later, a band will come along offering a new take on the genre whether making things more extreme, radically different in tempo, or juxtaposed with a different genre altogether. Deep River Acolytes (DRA) are a Finnish band that formed in 2014 and have certainly appealed to this reviewer's musical preferences.

'The Hour of Trial' is the band's first full-length, a successfully driving slab of Metal bearing nine total tracks. 'The Unknown Grandeur' kicks things off and shines brightly with the gleam of 1980s Traditional Doom masters Candlemass mixed with a bit of classic Goth thrown in for good measure. The main riff is massive with the same chords left hanging never tiring the ears. It is the keyboards that are thrown in for effect that give it that darker touch. To pull this style off properly, there must be some solid, up-front bass work included and thankfully, this is the case here. The bass is ever moving, carrying the song on its back along the way and thus making those heavy classic riffs even heavier. Think of the effect Geezer Butler's bass lines have for Iommi's riffs or even the relation between Steve Harris and Iron Maiden's classic twin guitar attack. Without the solid work performed by the low end, the guitar riffs would sound thing and hollow barely making any impression comparable to what was on those classic records.

The vocals do a lot for this band as their greatest strength is versatility. The singer has a unique snarl that frames his baritone voice, but there are many surprises along the way. For instance, the second track, 'Deviltrance', contains a section that sounds like an ode to one Kim Petersen, better known as King Diamond. The unmistakable cackle reminds the ears of listening to Them. Such a tribute shows versatility along with a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor. It is most welcome. Throughout the album, there is an uncommon croon established that provides darkness and a bit of drama to the traditional Metal riffs. JT's vocals do not rival Dio or Halford in style and execution, but they give the music an original shade allowing it to stand apart from the masses of clone bands out there.

On 'Cages', the fifth track, the band accelerates into lethal mode. It is baffling to contemplate such a young band producing Metal steeped so virulently in the infective feel of the classics. The double bass work solidly intensifies the dark, descending riff. DRA employ two guitarists to full effect by not just beefing up the riffs but also adding extra atmosphere throughout. For instance, while one guitar performs a run of the interlude, the other engages in arpeggios for that something extra. Of course, the leads are poignant as well; however, the overindulgent wankery proliferated by others is avoided for the full benefit of the song as a whole.

It has been established that the band benefits from an arsenal of accomplished musicians. Any doubts to that statement can be laid to rest listening to the seventh track, 'Grave Devotions'. Its intro of creepy clean guitar and keyboards evokes the strongest of Mercyful Fate vibes particularly in the way the solo embellishes the melody over the top. The secret weapon to the album is clearly the production. Overall, the classic Metal feel is achieved with a very warm, analog sound. One can almost feel the heat of the tubes (or valves for the Brits) through the stereo speakers. The drums snap, slam, and boom explosively when necessary never straying from a natural, lively sound thankfully. Hopefully, this will be/has been released on vinyl for it certainly has a sound and feel that favor that tried and true medium.

Fans of Metal old and young will definitely enjoy and appreciate this album. No, DRA have not reinvented the wheel, but in an age when things are becoming more and more separated by subgenre, this is a sound with a mass appeal. Other younger bands have blended such classic elements together the now defunct In Solitude comes to mind as well as Portland newcomers Idle Hands. All three, with DRA included, though, have original sounds that contain custom dimensions and scope. DRA succeed in crafting memorable tunes covered in a vibe endearing them to the most cynical of ears. With such a powerful debut, it will be exciting indeed to see what they have to offer in the future.

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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10


Tracklist :
1. The Unknown Grandeur
2. Deviltrance
3. Temples Below
4. Wake At Sea
5. Cages
6. The Uninvited
7. Grave Devotion
8. Salt Of This Earth
9. The Undertow

Duration : Approx. 47 minutes

Visit the Deep River Acolytes bandpage.

Reviewed on 2019-06-09 by Chris Hawkins
Vanha - Black Lion
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