Friday, 15 January 2016

Elfspell – The River Giant Rises (2016) / 85%

Take up your axe, take up your sword!

John Gallo is perhaps the most talented and underrated doom musician in the United States these days. After the classic Orodruin album Epicurean Mass and his more recent experimentations with Blizaro and John Gallow, he's back with a full new band to deliver something different and quite interesting.

The River Giant Rises is the second demo of this band from Rochester and shows a more primitive, visceral and downright epic take on doom metal and heavy metal compared to 2014's Paul Chain influenced Violet Dreams, an overtly complex and cerebral piece of doom. Elfspell is still rich and technically but explores proto extreme metal and epic metal in a completely distinctive take. I always like the lo-fi approach in traditional metal such as the charmant dorkiness of New York's Realmbuilder or the heavy/black metal of Toronto's Demontage and this band has the same philosophy.

Within the three extended numbers (all around seven minutes), we're able to find raw epic doom mixed with a lot of other stuff (this black metal break in the title track is lovely) and illustrated by a geeky and fun drawing of a big ass dragon and a logo similar to what old school death metal or symphonic black metal are known to used!

The production is raw for this kind of music but it fits the persona of Elfspell. This is real Dungeon & Dragons metal unlike overblown shit like Rhapsody of Fire. The dual guitars play these intricate riffs but the whole thing in rooted in a sort of twisted world where the biggest bands in the world are Mortuary Drape, Candlemass, Pagan Altar and Manilla Road. The vocals of Ron Blackwell (Crucifist, Nokturnal Hellstorm) are manly, deep cleans and they're really fun. There's also an amusing folk metal influence, especially on “Jar'Al's Lament”. The closing track of this demo has this medieval feel not too different from what Skyclad were doing.

I'm excited to hear what this band can do in the future, I'm sure their debut full length will blow me away. Those twenty minutes made me a fan.

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