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Cardinal Wyrm : Cast Away Souls

Cardinal Wyrm's latest full-length is a daring, but mostly successful, Doom-based exploration.

Exhibiting simultaneously somewhat muddy, but great production, 'Cast Away Souls' gets right to the point with the opening track, 'Silver Eminence'. This is Doom Metal that throws in many influences from all genres of Metal, sometimes deviating from Doom completely as these other styles are explored; with all of it is done well stylistically. For example, there is the thrashy verse to the aforementioned first track, the well placed black metal chords of 'The Resonant Dead', and the neo-folk vibes of 'Lost Orison'. Cardinal Wyrm's effort is a solid one, and though it has a few weak spots, they deserve some credit for presenting an album so diverse, accompanied by their own unique sound.

One thing the band accomplishes is maintaining a lot of momentum at the beginning of 'Cast Away Souls'. The structure of the songwriting is excellent, and the pacing between the first few tracks is well done. Cardinal Wyrm doesn't seem to try to get away with any songs that are too long, and their approach in this area is proficient. Now, the momentum still holds strong throughout the album, in both the quality of the songs' writing and performance, but the second half doesn't quite seem to have the spark of the first few tracks. This isn't attenuated by the vocal delivery, which gets old as the album progresses.

The vocals have a lot of good aspects. Most of them are wide, soft palate raised, bellowing melodies, but there is a touch of the extreme as well - I found the high-pitched screams quite good - but it's the sung vocals that wear themselves out. Such a tone for clean singing is a brave choice, and while it fits in most places, it sounds downright goofy in others. Thankfully, there are a number of clever vocal harmonies to help the vocals along, some of which are dissonant, yet perfect sounding in terms of harmonic placement within the chords. This is an impressive feat, as picking the right 'wrong' note is never an easy compositional decision for a vocalist, and such notes are even harder to perform. In addition, there are some backup vocals coming from a different member of the band, ones that are androgynous in tone and add to the vocal bed in a complimentary manner. These can be heard on tracks three and five, and the later would be my favorite of the album vocally if it weren't for some poorly chosen spoken word parts.

When it comes to the band, though, I have nothing bad to say. The drummer and guitarists attack their instruments and never seem to slow down - figuratively speaking, this is Doom after all - giving 'Cast Away Souls' a truly esoteric, and dark sound. A few tracks also have some keyboard parts sneak in. These sections are sparse and don't draw too much attention to themselves - a good decision I think for an album of this form. On top of it all, the drummer and lead guitar aren't afraid to show some colors, such as the cymbal swells that bring 'After The Dry Years' to a close, and the opening guitar shredding of the closing track, 'Soul Devouring Fog'. Unfortunately, it's this closing track where I feel the vocals hit their lowest point.

Coming to an end after only three-quarters of an hour, 'Cast Away Souls' doesn't overstay its welcome, and the album feels like it's over before you know it. Cardinal Wyrm's effort is a daring, but mostly successful one. Here is an album that tries several things, and just goes to show that there is still plenty of territory to be explored in the Doom world.

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Reviewer's rating: 7/10


Tracklist :
1. Silver Eminence
2. The Resonant Dead
3. Lost Orison
4. Grave Passage
5. After The Dry Years
6. Soul Devouring Fog

Duration : Approx. 46 minutes

Visit the Cardinal Wyrm bandpage.

Reviewed on 2016-09-25 by Alex Drozd
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