After telling the esteemed editor of this site that I had tickets for Yes and Jethro Tull for their respective 2018 50th anniversary tours, for some reason I got a bit of a deluge of Prog to start my review duties for the year. However, with the arrival of ‘Drug Magick’ care of Poland’s appropriately named Doomster Reich, it is back to work as normal, and in a classic example of nominative determinism, the Doom has returned!
‘Gimme Skelter’ opens the proceedings with a combination of lo-fi vocals far back in the mix, blending with heavy fuzz driven riffs, walls of distortion, and dirty beats driving the whole on, mixing the sounds of the occult with the garage aggression of the MC5 over 10 pounding minutes. This is followed with full on Electric Wizard worship with the near title track ‘Rites of Drug Magick’, complete with the Aleister Crowley-esque spelling and lyrics straight from one of that latter day wizard’s chemically induced rants. Hell (no pun intended), the next track ‘Round The Bend Satan’ could equally be an ode to that ceremonial magician as it is to the bogeyman of Christian mythology, all set to a psychedelic soundtrack, and leap back 45 years in time, and this could easily be a cut from an early Sabbath demo.
The music carries on apace, namely the pace of a stoner dragging his flares to the bar, with ‘Meet The Dead’, the guitar playing a blues from hell solo between looping hypnotic riffs, bringing to my mind the experimental spirit of The Doors, but only if they actively sought out bad trips to bring out their inner darkness and gloom. After the almost obscenely abbreviated ‘Chemical Funeral’ that practically sprints past in a mere six minutes, Doomster Reich close the album with the epic ‘Black Earth Red Sun’ in which a looser, trippier desert sound starts the proceedings before the volume and intensity of the track builds, coalescing into a solid, sludgy wall of fog, all before trailing into a combination of minimalist, almost jazzy beats that with the addition of howling effects are in turn battered into submission by a series of massive down-tuned riffs that themselves disappear into a howl of feedback and distortion to bring the album to a suitably dark closure.
To some, it would be far too easy to write off Doomster Reich as nothing but Electryczny Kreator wannabes, and indeed, there is nothing massively original in ‘Drug Magick’, but what does come with the album is solid musicianship, an obvious passion and enthusiasm for the genre, and riffs by the bucket load; as a first album, you couldn’t really ask for more.