The Order of Israfel covers a pretty wide range of the doom spectrum from the gothic fantasy of early Candlemass, through the heavy chords of Sabbath and Cathedral to the more versatile, sinking-into-the-sofa vibes of stoner bands like All Them Witches. But what separates this band from the rest is the dark, folky corner which it inhabits: spinning its yarns of a world where evil has taken hold. Not quite as demonic or darkly satanic as some of the recent crop of occult rock bands, but certainly entertaining stories told from a world where such things seem to be seeping into reality and threatening to engulf it. The folk aspect, most apparent on fourth track The Earth Will Deliver What Heaven Desires never distracts too much from the true heart of 70s doom that beats within Wisdom but it helps to add another dimension to the gravity of the doom sound into something almost a little otherworldly.
It’s helped by the lyrical content that takes me all the way back to Ancient Dreams and even threatens to overtake the music at certain points through the album, from demon-plagued villages to grand odes to the dark one himself. But Wisdom is also framed by sharp edges of melody and a more than competent vocal performance. While not exactly turning the doom genre on its head, the band manages to take all these elements to produce a vibe all of its own. The Order of Israfel is the brainchild of former Church Of Misery guitarist Tom Sutton and partner Patrik Andersson Winberg from Doomdogs providing the all important bass. They have managed to encapsulate a rewardingly simple, off-key melody that reminds me a bit of Danzig in places – even if the vocals are a little more Messiah Marcolin than good ol’ Evil Elvis (I know, I know, no one is quite like the Messiah, as Candlemass have found). But couple that with a sound that borrows from all the above bands and this becomes a pretty tantalizing prospect for any doom merchant. More multi-faceted than a lot of doom bands ever try to be and even with a highly unusual streak of humour in the lyrics (which is all very irregular in a genre not known for its levity).
There is definitely something very likeable about all this lot – refreshing so and with a bit of personality, which a lot of doom bands seem to pass up in favour of sheer reverberating weight of sound. Because, while it’s got some very cool, dark moments, there is something almost fun about Wisdom. I can’t quite put my finger on it but if I had to I would say I could almost imagine this being a bit of a doom party album – slam dancing to The Black Wings of A Demon before a bit of beer can waving and singing to the camp fire story of Noctuus. Something for everyone then – in fact not very doom at all. And I could see why that might put some people off, or even wind them up. But the tunes are all there too – full-on hypnotic epics like Wisdom, Promises Made To The Earth and The Vow/Morning Sun (Satanas) – the spoken word intro to the latter definitely one to play to mum ‘n’ dad. But all credit to Tom and Patrik who have managed to produce something classically doom which, if it has not quite torn the rule book up, has got drunk, sat on it and crumpled the cover, coloured in some of the pages and not been very apologetic about it all. Very enjoyable on a number of levels.
(8/10 Reverend Darkstanley)