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Unearthed Elf: Into The Catacomb Abyss

Give yourself a chance man! As if it wasn't going to be hard enough to persuade people to sample a one man doom-rock band called Unearthed Elf, or an album with a name that feels like four doomy words crammed together for effect, just look at that album cover… the back is worse! I like a fantasy themed album, but when Keith D (also of Arctic Sleep) decided to don a vicar's costume, blonde wig and comedy elf ears (which look more like handlebars), there's little doubt he immediately alienated half his potential audience. His look being less Legolas and much more legless after a weekend on the mead.

None of that would matter however, if it wasn't for the fact that this ten track album is actually pretty decent. Keith may have bad fashion sense, but having played all the instruments, sung and handled production (alongside John Ferrara), there's no denying he's a hugely talented chap. In terms of style, the fantasy theme doom purveyed here is reasonably upbeat by comparison to most acts that fill that description, a keen mix of Ghost, Type O Negative, Mercyful Fate, Sentenced and classic era Candlemass explored.

Cleverly, the album kicks off with a mighty riff and one that prime era-Ozzy would happily have borrowed from Sabbath. It's immediately clear that the production is top notch and the overall atmosphere is conveyed really well. Then Keith starts singing… and actually he's OK. Nothing to write home about and lacking a certain bite or individual character, but he can hold a tune, add some grit and ht the notes. Likewise his drumming is good too, a pretty much what you'd expect, with no real tricks or flicks approach giving the songs just enough oomph, although not much more.

However put a guitar in Keith's hands and he comes alive "Never The Sun" almost veering into symphonic territory through its strident riff and steady synths, while "Vial Of Holy Water In An Ancient, Cobweb-Laden Mausoleum" (and yes, that's just the title, not the entire lyric…) slams home through a crawling, confident grind. With the clumsily titled "Lighting The Mummy On Fire" repeating that trick and the almost power metal of "Realm Of The Beholder" cleverly changing the mood, there's no doubt that there's a lot to be impressed by. Still, you can't help but think that the whole thing could do with shedding ten minutes or so – just to stop the attention wandering – and a more critical eye at the creation stage to rein in Keith's more exuberant (or just plain silly) tendencies. That said, this is still a debut album with a lot going for it. It's just a shame that there's a good chance that many of those who might like it will take one look at the cover art, band name and album title and quickly move along...

Track Listing
1. Into The Catacomb Abyss
2. Never See The Sun Again
3. Eternal Night
4. Gauntlets Of Volcanic Doom
5. Vial Of Holy Water Found In An Ancient, Cobweb-Laden Mausoleum
6. Candles In The Crypt
7. Lighting The Mummy On Fire
8. Realm Of The Beholder
9. Ossified Remains
10. A Forest Of Gravestones

Added: March 10th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Unearthed Elf at bandcamp
Hits: 596
Language: english

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