John Gallow – Violet Dreams (I, Voidhanger Records)
This is the first solo offering from Orodruin founder John Gallo (not counting the album and EP’s he’s done as Blizaro) and he plays all the instruments himself. Violet Dreams is John’s homage to what he calls “all those purple doom metal bands from Italy,” namely Paul Chain. The resulting sound is a creepy, psychedelic affair with plenty of Sabbathian riffing and spooky organ sounds.
Lyrically, the album is all about dreams, or more specifically, nightmares. John provides some interesting liner notes in the CD booklet that help to explain things. They are a welcome addition, as the casual listener could be forgivien for thinking the man that created this creepy doom album was totally bonkers!
Violet Dreams is more of a doom album than John’s previous efforts with Blizaro(which was based on classic horror soundtracks, many of those Italian too) but not as full on doom metal as his most famous band Orodruin. As stated above, John does play all the instruments himself. This works extremely well on all but the drums, which I must admit are a weak link in places. He does a good job but he may have bitten off a little more than he can chew here. I would suggest some drum lessons or recruiting a specialist drummer for album two (and I hope there will be a follow up because this is really good). If you are an Orodruin fan, I’d suggest checking this out, and if you are familiar with Blizaro, this sounds enough like it to appeal to you, too.
Serpent Venom are one of the best doom bands in the UK, and their new album will only serve to strengthen their reputation. Roland Scriver’s guitar tone takes Tony Iommi’s trademark Black Sabbath sound and drags it kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. The bass is crushing and the drums. Well, they sound like a heard of elephants stampeeding. Slowly. For an hour. The vocals sit perfectly on top of this wall of sludgy riffs and slow motion rhythm. They are not too high in the mix to annoy and not too low as to be obscured by the sheer weight of the music.
The only criticism I can level at Serpent Venom is this: they can tend to sound a little samey after a few tracks. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, if you don’t like one song of theirs, move on. They are all very similar minus the odd tempo change. If you like what they do, you’ll love this new album. If not, it won’t change your mind.
This band is the brainchild of Canadian multi-instrumentalist Matt Emery. The music is a cross between ’70’s hard rock and modern psychedelic doom. Matt’s clean vocals remind me of Ronnie James Dio in places and are of the highest quality throughout, as are the musicianship and production.
The lyrical subject matter covers the usual occultism and sexual themes that one would expect from an occult rock band. The cover art is also awesome. I’m seeing a lot of topless women on rock and metal albums lately. Maybe we started a trend with Iron Void? I heartily recommend this CD. It’s one of the best rock albums I have heard in recent years and is heavy enough to appeal to doom and heavy metal fans too. There is even a cover version of the Blue Oyster Cult classic ‘Dominance and Submission’ on here for good measure! If you liked The Devil’s Blood and have been missing that epic psyche rock sound since their demise, you could do a lot worse than this.