So, hands up class, what kind of metal might we be dealing with when the band is called “The Sabbathian” ? Doom metal? Correct-a-mundo, albeit probably not quite in the vein that you’d be expecting. There are no Iommi-rip-off riffing moments, nor any Ozzy-aping wails here. No. This is quite the different beast.
Essentially the brain child of Chad Davis (for our older, more doom-loving readers, you may recall him from Hour of Thirteen), playing – it would appear – most instruments on this release, with the vocals of Anette Gulbrandsen accompanying, this is doom metal that is much more grounded in the latter years of Bathory than it is in the works of the boys from Brum. To that end, there’s plenty to like here if you’re a fan of bands like Ereb Altor, and it’s fair to say that The Sabbathian err towards the more dreamy, meandering side of the equation. “The Brightest Light” is the first proper song, after the introductory “Requiem”. It’s here that we see all the component parts together for the first time; the fuzzed out and slightly removed sounding guitars, the insistent but hypnotic mono-rhythm of the drums, and of course the haunting clean chant-like vocals of Anette.
Being a doom release, of course, this is not going to be one for adrenaline junkies. In the almost nine and a half minutes of “Head of a Traitor”, for instance, there really isn’t anything that would ever get out of what you might call mid to slow tempo. Some of their blurb describes them as influenced by Black Sabbath or Candlemass, and while of course it’s hard to be a doom band and not have any of those bands in your DNA, even after straining at the ear to listen out for similar moments, I didn’t find any. I did enjoy the mesmerising, almost ambient effect of the slightly dazed-sounding axe work, and at times I found myself thinking that Anette’s vocals had an almost Cocteau Twins sound to them. That’s going to be a hard sell for some listeners I think; this is described as Occult Doom, but it’s a far cry from the somewhat more – shall we say “successful” bands that attach themselves to that label. There are no “hits” to be found here, and no easy three minute anthems with saccharine melodies.
“One Night of Cruelty” almost manages to break into a lumbering demi-trot at one point, but never quite settles out of the menacing tempo throughout the album. It is though, the most aggressive and perhaps out and out “metal” track on the record, and is none the worse for it. If anything, I’d like to hear a bit more of this kind of track on another album, as it helps to break up what can sometimes be a bit of a monotonous listen. As it is, this is a fine album, and certainly quite different and haunting with the marriage of the vocals and the darkness of the writing, even if it does sometimes hamstring itself with a single, if devoted, tone.
(6.5/10 Chris Davison)