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Reverend Bizarre were a band that has always been important to the doom metal scene. Between their slow, Black Sabbath influenced riffs, Doom-worshipping lyrics, melancholic vocals chanting away, and the band's unfortunate breakup in 2007, the band has always meant something to the doom metal scene.
This happens to be the band's second output, and while it's not as good as the debut which gained a 5 stars from me, it's still great, and even better that it incorporates some new sounds not heard in RB's music before.
At first, these changes don't seem to be a good thing. What with the band placing a glaringly obvious "THE BIGGEST SELL OUT IN TRUE DOOM" sticker on the cover, a fan of "In The Rectory..." will probably get turned off by this. The band proves of their "selling out" by proving that the first song, "Doom Over The World", is a very fast and upbeat track, in complete contrast to the doomy gloom that made the debut so great. However, despite the drastic tempo change, these three beginning tracks are all exceptionally good. "Doom Over The World" is a fun, adventurous journey into a medeival war, showing the band's humorous side as they nonsensically shout and holler at the end of the song which leads to a silly spoken outro. "The Devil Rides Out" is hands down fun, albeit with childish but funny lyrics. "Cromwell" follows in a similar vain.
However, these fast tracks don't last long, though, and before long we're pushed into the opus of the album, the 13 minute "Slave of Satan". It seems like Reverend Bizarre haven't sold out after all! Beginning with a rather minimalistic bass intro, this song takes it's time to build up, and it is not until about 3 and a half minutes until Albert begins to sing. Call me biased if you wish, but in my honest opinion this is his best vocal performance to date, and some of his best lyrics he has written. Personally, I prefer the unabridged version of the song which features an incredibly cool (if slightly offensive) spoken word intro, which adds six or seven minutes to this song, but since this studio version is basically the exact same song without the intro, there is not much to complain about.
My personal favorite track is "Council of The Ten". At only 8 and-a-half minutes, it's the shortest "true doom metal" track on the album, but makes up for it by cramming as much awesomeness as it needs into one 8 minute track. Albert's vocal performance in this song is stunning, and some of the darkest baritone vocals I've heard. Like "Slave of Satan", the lyrics are very proffesionally written, and depict a witch trial in medieval times. The first half of this song stays similar in the vain of the previous track, but when the 5:56 mark hits, the song becomes more similar to the first three tracks - a great combo of slowness and speed in this song, which automatically brings to mind the title track and "Sodoma Sunrise" from "In The Rectory..." The song keeps moving along at a fast pace until the very end. "Brotherhood in red, won't you ride with me? RIGHT!"
"Bye This Axe I Rule!" is quite possibly the second slowest song on the album, and is without a doubt the darkest. The song doesn't take it's time to build up, beginning with a small bass intro, and the full band comes in before the blink of an eye. Albert's vocals and lyrics in this song are merely chilling. Much like the previous track, it picks up around 6 minute in, but quickly fades back into a crushingly slow doom track, with Albert's low mumbling in the background while the song continues it's assault.
"Eternal Forest", while it is very heavy, is also very beautiful, but this is also due to the emotion-drenched vocals and lyrics. OK, I've been praising Albert a little too much. It's time to give the other band members their time. Peter Vicar's guitar riff in this song is simply stunning and beautiful, fitting Al's voice perfectly. Earl of Void is one of my favorite drummers on the doom metal scene, and gets his point across in this track where his drumming is simply stellar. The song doesn't change much throughout it's 11 minute duration, but after all, this IS doom metal we're talking about.
"F***** Wizard" finally lets you rest from this onslaught of riffs pounding you for the last 62 odd minutes or so. It's the slowest song on the album, and despite being alot calmer than the past seven tracks, it still refuses to let up, and the riff in this song is dark and sinister, building atmosphere. Whenever one reviews this album, they always point out the glaring similarities between this track and Black Sabbath's s/t track, and while I honestly and truly DO think this song is a clone of Sabbath, it's still great, because who doesn't love that band? (OK, I'm biased. Bring on the hate comments.) Anyway, the music in this song is quite dark and serious, and so are Al's vocals, but the band also shows the humorous side with absolutely asinine lyrics about a Wizard...erm, making love. Despite the difference between the music and lyrics, it still doesn't feel like the lyrics are ruining the atmosphere of the song, because Al's gripping voice keep the song stable. This isn't a track to play on a family vacation. "Harold, what is this? In front of THE CHILDREN?"
While this release isn't as good as The Rev's debut album, it's still a great piece of art, and it would be completely foolish to pass up on it, if you are a Reverend Bizarre fan. R.I.P. Reverend Bizarre, 1995 - 2007.
Doom Over The World - 7:38
The Devil Rides Out - 6:12
Cromwell - 5:27
Slave of Satan - 13:27 (21:00 on Unabridged Version)
Council of The Ten - 8:33
By This Axe I Rule! - 10:02
Eternal Forest - 10:52
F****** Wizard - 11:15
Personal Favorites: "Doom Over The World", "Slave of Satan", "Council of The Ten", "Bye This Axe I Rule!"
Overall: 88 out of 100