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Lord Vicar : Gates Of Flesh

Lord Vicar's third full-length shows them at their absolute masterful best.

‘Gates of Flesh’ sees Doom supergroup Lord Vicar - an international collaboration that rose from the ashes of Reverend Bizarre like a darkly-feathered Doom phoenix comprised of former members of Doom heavyweights such as Saint Vitus, Count Raven and Centurions Ghost - return with their third full-length album. Clocking in at a relatively brief 42 minutes, it’s short enough to fit on a single vinyl disc; a deliberate strategy by the band to boil their traditional Doom menace down into a lean, mean assault on the senses. It’s an approach that proves successful, as from the riff of opener, ‘Birth of Wine’, to the fading buzz of ‘Leper, Leper’ there isn’t a second of filler on this record.

Opening song ‘Birth of Wine’ gets things off to a rollicking start with a truly gargantuan Doom riff that succeeds in being both ear-bashingly heavy and incredibly addictive: you’ll return to this opener again and again. But there is far more on offer here than just a great riff. Chritus’ vocals combine just the right combination of melancholy and menace as he delivers darkly suggestive lyrics in this twisted ode to sexual obsession, and some superb soloing from Kimi Kärki (no longer going under the Peter Vicar moniker he used in the days of Reverend Bizarre) that reaches Floydian levels of subtlety completes a pretty fine opening statement, setting the bar extremely high for the rest of the album.

Unusually, there is only one track on this album: ‘Gates of Flesh' is formatted, on the CD at least, as one long 42 minute number. This may initially frustrate those sons and daughters of the digital age that like to skip to their favourite songs, and fret over new-fangled things like ‘Playcounts’, but it will encourage listeners to enjoy the album in its entirety with every listen, thus making it a deeper and more rewarding experience.

Although not a concept album, there are many recurring themes on ‘Gates of Flesh’. The dark obsession and sexuality of ‘Birth of Wine’ is further developed on ‘The Green Man’, with its references to Pagan symbols of fertility, some of the heaviest Doom riffing on the album, and a cry of “Green, green fill me with power/with fertile semen and endless potency”. If Lord Vicar had recorded the soundtrack album to The Wicker Man, this would have been a perfect choice as a background to the burning of the hapless Sergeant Howie.

Slowed down, pummelling traditional Doom riffs abound, but there are moments of respite, too. ‘A Shadow of Myself’ provides an instrumental acoustic interlude with a dark, folky feel, while ‘A Woman Out of Snow’ begins with a beautiful acoustic passage and a fragile vocal that demonstrates a more vulnerable sensibility amongst the lascivious Doom swagger. Perhaps the standout track of the album, it’s a tale of loneliness and longing for someone lost, that ebbs and flows with heavy and acoustic passages, some blistering soloing, and demonstrates some fine lyrical skill.

From the beginning to the sudden and disturbing end of the album’s closer, the epic ‘Leper, Leper’ (which at over ten minutes long represents almost a quarter of the album), ‘Gates of Flesh’ encompasses a great deal of what we love about the Doom genre; a heavy, melancholy trip that moves the listener with some masterful musicianship, a vocal performance of range and depth, and, most outstandingly, song writing that puts many of the so-called great mainstream songwriters of our age to shame. You wouldn’t skip any tracks even if you could.

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Reviewer's rating: 10/10


Tracklist :
1. Birth of Wine/The Green Man/A Shadow of Myself/Breaking The Circle/Accidents/A Woman Out of Snow/Leper, Leper

Duration : Approx. 42 minutes

Visit the Lord Vicar bandpage.

Reviewed on 2016-07-27 by Nick Harkins
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