Sometimes it’s re-acquainting yourself with the past that brings the present into sharpest relief; the state of true doom metal being the case in point here. True doom was assailed by the rise of stoner some years back, just as it could be argued that 70s occult rock is doing now – somehow lying over the scene and smothering what otherwise might grow and presenting itself as doom in its place. Just something that… well something that clears away the chaff and leaves the roots stronger eventually. Back then Reverend Bizarre were one of the bands who rose up from that period and inspired others.
Cardinals Folly were, at the time, one such band. I bought the two EPs that make up the bulk of this compilation on release, having previously also bought the demo they record under their previous moniker of The Coven. So it’s nice that Shadow Kingdom’s always excellent archaeology department have dug up this as another recent relic for us re-evaluate.
Not having listened to them for a while, I had forgotten why I got into them. I got into them because they were so damned good.
Reverend Bizarre are an obvious but fair first point of reference and not just because off the ecclesiastical name: Cardinal’s Folly have that same kind of sometimes over dramatic vocal delivery coupled to an energetic, open sound simply bouncing with bass and… Fun. Yes, fun damn you. There’s a curiously faithful cover of Kraftwerk’s The Model here. See? Fun. Playing with expectations. Listen to the bizarre vocals on the pretty flat out and awesome Blood Axis Raiders and try not to smile as you bang that head.
Some things are a bit less than ideal as you would expect from a band at this stage of their career: As early as the (otherwise excellent) Right Hand Of Doom, the vocals try to sing below their ideal register and wander off key here and there but it doesn’t really distract from a pretty full on, driving bouncing bit of up tempo doom. The production too is perhaps a little harsh on the drums. On the plus side you are immediately hit by the terrific energy levels and live sound reminiscent of The Gates Of Slumber when they hit the gas pedal, and with a kind of punky black metal sound working away beneath that really shakes things about rhythm wise. Add in some bursts of screaming guitar and genuinely invigorating songwriting with a classic Hammer Horror / Dennis Wheatley feel to their subjects (their 2011 full length debut was dedicated to Ingrid Pitt) and you have the very definition of unsung scene heroes.
Without a doubt this is a fine compilation that should really jolt awake sleepy doomheads and is even likely to appeal to fans of traditional heavy metal who usually stay away from the snail’s pace world as Cardinal’s Folly really know what the accelerator is for. If it doesn’t raise the band’s profile there really is no justice in this world.
Here’s hoping for some new stuff soon.