When I reviewed Swedish crew Dun Ringill’s last album, 2019’s “Welcome”, I initially gave it an 8/10 score, but it ended up as being my pick of the best albums of the year, coming in as my number 1 on the end of year list. The boys have an almighty knack of writing catchy, heavy as hell doom metal with hooks that stay in your ears for months. I was therefore really excited to hear that they were coming out with another album so quickly after the last one, but was worried that there maybe hadn’t been enough time since “Welcome” to ensure that the music would be up to scratch.
Was my anxiety well founded?
“Library of Death” is more than a continuation of the music to be found on their debut album, instead adding plenty of aggression to go with all of the progression. “Library of Death” has an altogether more menacing feel, whether this is because it sounds to me that the guitars tone has definitely been given more a classic “metal” feel. The title track, for instance, begins with a very classic doom metal vibe, but ends with the kind of free-wheeling, muscular musical workout that you seldom hear anymore – with some of the best soloing I’ve heard in absolutely yonks. Elsewhere, the pedigree of the band (which features members of the Order of Israfel and Doomdogs) comes to the fore. “Dance of the Necromancer” – a song title that is so metal it should be covered in denim – manages to meld a classic Candlemass-ian take on doom metal with what sounds like short stabs of an almost King Crimson grasp of progressive rock, complete with Sax riffing underneath the guitars – and that’s before the flute appears and rubs it’s Uriah Heap ass all over the track. Huge respect is due to the vocals of Thomas Eriksson, who has one of the most distinctive voices in modern doom, who turns things up a notch here. His trademark snarl twists and turns throughout the album, from demonic bellow to devilish rasp, and clean singing between.
“Well of Desire” comes off like the bastard offspring of The Lord Weird Slough Feg and mid-period Cathedral, with a goddamn bottom end so addictive, you’ll think that Patrik Winberg (bass) is an alchemist. “NBK” is basically the Neat Records 7” from 1982 that you didn’t know existed, but you need – a slice of tremendously well produced fist-in-ze-air NWOBHM that smells of old beer and Brut (for men). “Reverend of Many Faces” is an epic foray into true doom; it has huge concrete slab riffs and the kind of stomp that is usually reserved for pachyderms.
“Library of Death” has seen Dun Ringill flex and show that they aren’t just another group of doom metallers. Here they show a real mastery and affection for a whole host of metal and hard rock, and manage to conjure up more than the sum of their parts. The production here by the way is an absolute belter; fantastic power, really clear, but allowing the grit and grime of the stringed players to still be felt.
No band has yet occupied my album of the year slot twice, but with about five months left to run, Dun Ringill are in with a good chance. This, dear reader, is a great album – and it’s only getting better with each listen. Get onto it or miss out.
(9/10 Chris Davison)