Monday, 27 July 2015

Northwinds/Marble Chariot Split 10 inches (2015) / 85%

The Baguette Doom Series pt. XIV: 10 inches of doom

For this edition of the Baguette series, I have an interesting split to tackle. The 10” features two of the previously reviewed bands of this series, on one side we have the newcomers of Marble Chariot and on the other, we have the veterans of Northwinds. The two French artists both evolve in the traditional doom metal genres but there's still some differences to be found in their respective approaches.

Side A – Northwinds – Witchcoven

Wizards in black, with dark wings on their back
Witchcoven, mortals are living in fear

The Parisian quartet's song is a strong slab of folky doom. The eight minutes number starts with a soft flute intro with a lovely acoustic guitar and the soft vocals of drummer Sylvain Auvé. I think his voice, while heavily accented in English, was always a good fit for the band as it can adapt to both the softer or the heavier side of their music. After the calm introduction, the wind starts blowing and this music is intertwined with crows singing their prayers, you can feel the metal approaching and the riffs are starting to appear. Northwinds are masters (of Magic? Read my review for their 2001 album hereat combining progressive rock, folk à la Jethro Tull and old school doom metal and this song is no exception. It rocks hard but still has many prog elements like this ethereal piano. The song ends with a blistering classic metal solo and some synths demonstrating that they once again offered a varied trip with the length of one song.

Side B: Marble Chariot – Darkness Descends

There's nothing else but shattered dreams
Imploring eyes questioning me

Sharing its name with the seminal classic of Dark Angel, this track from the trio of Bordeaux improves the sound found on their first extended play (and sole release before this split). They play a totally sad and crushing version of trad doom mostly inspired by the slow, bass heavy formula of Reverend Bizarre (one of the main influences in trad doom these days and that's fine with me). Sébastien Fanton's vocals are stronger and possess a clearer sense of operatic might than before, he simply got better in my opinion. There's also some harsh background vocals included here and it gives a somewhat darker tone to the track. Another thing the band improved is their pacing issues, “The Burden is So Heavy” had two ten plus minutes and they were dragging a little too much and had some uninteresting parts, “Darkness Descends” is a long song but the riffs, the solos and everything else are all better. Their doom is honest, well written and despite the simplistic nature of their identity, it's subtle and rewarding. I think this is proving that the band is ready to finally unleash a full length album. They have the adequate production, the huge bass tone and the miserable lyrics, come on guys, I'm waiting!

I'm a bit sad both songs are in English but doom tries to unleash its despair to every living souls on Earth and the tongue of Shakespeare is the way to go. Nevertheless, it would had been fun to hear more French doom in French, you know. Outside of this linguistic matter, it's a strong split with two very good tracks. They fit very well together even though Northwinds is usually much more serene and almost joyful at times while their companion here are totally about loving misery and despair. This split is showcasing a band at the peak of their art with Northwinds and one that's becoming pretty damn good at theirs with Marble Chariot.

Thanks to Marble Chariot for the vinyl.

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