Gévaudan know how to doom. Since forming in 2013 they’ve gigged hard and teased with a couple of EP’s. “Iter”, from the Latin meaning “the journey” represents their debut long player. The Hertfordshire quartet lean on classic Black Sabbath inspired sounds and for those familiar with them live, they’ve developed into a tight knit unit that feed off each other to produce some crushing music.

Beautiful and gentle Tony Iommi-esque strumming announces opening track, “Dawntreader”. Weighty in its melancholy and complemented by soft, almost whispered vocals, it hypnotises before the grab that drags and pulls you into a doom pit with just an edge of menace in guitarist Bruce Hamilton’s riff. The vocals bleed a raw emotion that covers a spectrum of passions and it becomes immediately obvious that the band have taken a leap forward in maturity and confidence. Their song writing and structure creates far more heaviness than simple blunt force riffage. David Himbury’s drumming steers a time change that carries the track higher and is accompanied by a grooving bass line. Singer, Adam Pirmohamed takes full advantage of the platform to flex his vocal muscles and one starts to appreciate the aptly inspired journey that the listener is being taken on.

“Maelstrom” and “Heathen Army” produce some meaty, thick riffs with a ton of fuzz over a classic heavy metal rhythm. Full of swagger and with a strutting power, Hamilton unleashes a searing solo that wails and screams away seemingly in search of his inner Hendrix. The band produce a tightly layered platform. Andy Salt on bass combines with the bottom heavy drumming to produce a tar thick rhythm section allowing both guitarist and vocalist freedom to swing these tracks from the grimiest depths up into the stratosphere.

There’s a sense of light and shade that permeates these five tracks. The gentleness of Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan” inspires the bands more reflective moments before elements of Candlemass and Uriah Heep leads us into unabashed swathes of heaviness. Adam has developed into a fine storyteller as his vocals move from impassioned and desperate cries to scornful growls full of condemnation. Fifteen minute closing track “Duskwalker” forms a bookend and companion piece to the album’s opening slice. With an aura of loneliness, it’s steeped with a sense of finality and bleakness. The band give themselves plenty of space to breathe and create an atmosphere that bleeds into pure doom before the inescapable slide into a furious head banging groove. The central riff is shoved into the ground while desperate vocals scream the inevitable fate.

“Iter” is a strong statement for a debut LP from a young band. Thoughtfully constructed and written it has a sense of the epic and a completely natural feel. For lovers of doom, this is a must.

(8/10 Johnny Zed)