Right. So here are some things I have discovered since doing a google search on the terms “Dun Ringill”: 1) Dun Ringill is the name of a Scottish Iron age fort on the Isle of Skye. 2) It is also the name of a new doom rock band based out of that there Sweden. As I guess 99% of our readers are going to be interested in the latter fact, I shall base the rest of the review around that. Scottish history buffs are best redirected to Wikipedia.
Formed by members and ex-members of such famed bands as Doomdogs and The Order of Israfel, you may not be that surprised to learn that Dun Ringill tend towards the doomier end of the spectrum. That king of the Swedish keyboards, Per Widberg (Spiritual Beggars, live-Candlemass) also contributes to one of the tracks. The band therefore has quite the pedigree in terms of the musicians on board.
All of which, of course, is for nought if the music is pants. That’s not really the case here, but this isn’t an out and out metal rager by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, what you have here is a kind of strange hybrid of seventies progressive rock, the doomier end of occult rock, and some fairly muscular riffing. If you think of the weirder elements of the early periods of Cathedral – that is to say the flute-injected rock of say Jethro Tull spliced with the groovier and more upbeat elements of nineties oddities like Transport League, you won’t be far wrong. In fact, when this band is on, boy are they on. Second track on this six song platter, “Black Eyed Kids” is a minor classic in its own right, with some really cool interplay between simple yet catchy groove-laden riffs and smooth, quirky flute.
Elsewhere, tracks like “Open your eyes (and see the happiness and truth)”, with a stop-start approach to songwriting, and the wild vocals of Thomas Eriksson, continue the trend of having some complex song arrangements and plenty of dynamism. With acoustic guitar breaks, some folk influences, and then huge slabs of ear-crushing riffs, there’s something here for everyone, but particularly those with an ear for quirkiness. You’re not going to get some identi-kit doom here, and it’s all the better for it. I’ve mentioned it already, but this album really did take me back to the early days of Cathedral, where they’d throw the kitchen sink into song writing process, and add flutes, mellotron and god knows what else in the search for musical experimentation. It’s not all success though – one track in particular, “Snow of Ashes” left me…wait for it…cold. Not that it’s not an OK song, but just that in comparison to the rest of the album it was a little short on invention and a little more typical of the whole retro-doom rock thing.
Closer “The Demon Within” is probably the closest that you’ll find on here to a traditional Doom metal track, feeling not unlike a rougher, but no less enjoyable Ereb Altor track. Leaden paced and with an epic feel to it, when those keyboard strains kick in over the chorus, it does lead to a chill running down the spine.
This isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It doesn’t stick rigidly to any established formula, and the arrangements and songwriting are going to confuse some listeners. Personally, I think it has a hefty dash of the familiar along with some real well-loved invention, and it sounds exciting for that. Frankly, we don’t need another by-the-numbers doom outfit – there are plenty of those to go around already. The playing is sensational (there are some old-school actual melodic guitar solos on here – remember them?), and the production is powerful enough to demand your attention, while having enough grit to remind you that you’re listening to a goddamn rock record.
Good stuff – and more please?
(8/10 Chris Davison)