Well folks, it’s fair to say that in the world of heavy music, Great War veteran, Cambridge Professor, and revered author J.R.R. Tolkien is a fair old influence. Theme wise, any number of acts have been inspired by his writings, most famously the mighty Led Zeppelin, whilst there are two bands I can immediately identify as being named after Middle Earth’s Mount Doom, namely axe wielders and mead botherers Amon Amarth, and the subject of this review, New York State’s Orodruin. Pub quiz trivia and evidence of my reading tastes aside, time to crack on with the review of their ‘Ruins of Eternity’.
Album opener ‘Forsaken’ lands the band’s sound squarely in the territory of traditional Doom, drum and bass being slow, solid and leadenly heavy, lyrics of darkness and introspection cleanly and clearly delivered, and the guitars being a twin helping of Iommi inspired pure riffology. What gives the track a bit of a different sound is the fact that Orodruin have twin guitars, which means when later in the track the pace picks up into a gallop they are able to alternatively harmonise then swap solos, giving an extra edge to their sound. This variation is set aside for follow up ‘Man of Peace’, the musical delivery being near funereal, as befits the despairing story the lyrics tell.
By the arrival of ‘Grave Illusion’ the band go full on Candlemass with the sweeping scope of the song, singer Mick Puleo, who also handles bass and drum duties on the album, showing a solid sustain to his voice, whilst the guitars of John Gallo and Nick Tuydelski build up a massive soundscape so reminiscent of those Swedish titans. Indeed, whilst Orodruin are undoubtedly inspired by such illustrious forebears, they pull in extra elements such as a respectful nod to classic NWOBHM in the chunky guitar work of ‘War On The World’ where they not only “summon the wizard”, but call on the spirit of Pagan Altar and such proto-metal acts as Budgie as the pace brakes and accelerates throughout, managing to cram a full Tolkienesque tale into what is amazingly just a four and a half minute song; I honestly had to play the track a couple of times whilst checking my watch as it had the sort of scope that normally fills a meandering ten minute plus epic. Indeed, the three piece show an admirable restraint in their writing, as it would have been far too easy to allow follow up tracks ‘Into The Light Of The Sun’ and ‘Voice In The Dark’ to wander and stretch unnecessarily as so many others have; instead they are brought in at little over the five minute mark, making sure they do not outstay their welcomes. Appropriately enough ‘Ruins Of Eternity’ finishes with the title track which is both the longest, and musically most ambitious work on the album. Messrs Gallo and Tuydelski start the proceedings with some the sort of guitar harmonising that made Iron Maiden so exciting back in the day, a style itself borrowed from hard rockers Thin Lizzy, before slowing down to the dragging pace beloved of the children of Doom, the story told by the lyrics sounding like the lament of one of Michael Moorcock’s ill fated Champions Eternal.
This is the first album by Orodruin in 16 years and it has a whole host of good features to recommend it. Live, I can only imagine they would have to recruit at least one extra member (bass, drums and vocals is not really doable by any one person at the same time), but beyond that their compositions should be more than capably delivered on stage. Definitely an act to keep an eye out for.