Any doom fans out on the live scene in the past year would have been hard pressed to miss Age of Taurus as they have been very busy indeed in preparation of the release of this, their debut full length. Following a very well received demo back in 2010, singer and guitarist Toby Wright realised that interest in the band was so rife that it was time to elevate things from a personal pet project to a full and official band. After bringing on board some excellent musicians time was spent honing their craft, developing their sound with influences from the doom greats like Candlemass and Trouble, whilst adding elements of NWOBHM and 70s hard rock. ‘Desperate Souls of Tortured Times’ has been the product of the last 3 years work, and let’s be clear up front, it’s been worth the wait.
From the first note you are thrown into classic doom territory, the 1980’s and the sounds of classic Candlemass with its infectious yet simple riffing. Quite unusually, albeit welcome, the bass guitar is a prominent part of the soundscape and adds extra beef to an already meaty sound. Toby Wright’s vocals are clean, clear and simple, never overstretching the limits of their ability, (not even coming close I would wager), and they suit the music well. No Messiah style over-exuberance here, just a plain solid vocal that whilst reasonably simplistic, never becomes boring or jarring. ‘Sinking City’ has far more of a punch about it with the drums fitting in with the guitars to give you a series of blows to the gut, meaning that you cannot help but throw your upper half forward in the instigation of an auto headbang feature that you did not know you had. The solo break demonstrates the outstanding guitar technique of Alistair Riddell as he produces a gorgeously melancholy sound that I can only compare with Greg Mackintosh in its ability to make the hairs on your arms and neck stand up. The pace picks up and brings with it a healthy dose of the NWOBHM sound during ‘Always In The Eye’ which provides a welcome boost of energy before the weight of doom brings us back down to the ground. The willingness that they have to mix styles, not just across the album but within tracks too, always keeps things interesting and above the average run of the mill doom band.
Age of Taurus have been ready to do this for a while, but their patience has paid off with 7 excellent tracks that cover all the bases of the doom genre whilst at the same time pushing their own style and identity. There can be no doubt that at present retro doom chic is very much in fashion, and with that comes the inevitable deluge of bands who try to cash in on the ‘in thing’. I’m quite happy to say that doom has not suffered even nearly so much as other genres in terms of quality, which when you consider the limitations of the genre, is quite remarkable. There are absolutely no such worries here. From the slower tracks such as ‘Walk With Me My Queen’, to the faster rockier numbers like ‘The Bull And The Bear’ and everything in between, Age of Taurus have managed to provide a masterclass in composition, and to stake a claim to a place in the upper echelon of the current doom elite.
(8.5/10 Lee Kimber)