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Dread Sovereign: Alchemical Warfare

When you establish an artist as one of your favorites, two things can happen. Either you can become so blinded by your adoration, your bias prevents you from properly judging their latest output. Or you can elevate their classic material so highly, you will never let anything they do after or separately compare. Either way you’ve painted yourself into a corner. Once in a great while, someone comes along who removes this quandary from the equation entirely. They keep on getting better with age, improving their craft and continuously blowing you away. You simply know without doubt that this isn’t your bias talking. I say without the merest scrap of misgiving that Alan Averill from Dublin, Ireland manages to fit into this rather unique context hand-in-glove. Known best for his work fronting Primordial, one of the finest expressions of true heavy metal greatness to ever play a note, the versatile singer has also taken part in a more doom-laden endeavor called Dread Sovereign, and it is to this band we here turn our focus. On January 15th, 2021 they bestow their third assault upon the world. Alchemical Warfare appears courtesy of Metal Blade Records, and what a massive storm of metal music it is!

Whereby their first two records occupied more of a doomy sonic space, Alchemical Warfare sees Dread Sovereign inject a healthy dose of old-school filth and speed into the mix. The Black Sabbath feel is still there, but epic giants like opener “She Wolves of the Savage Season” and “Nature is the Devil’s Church” feature high-speed sections and ripping solos to balance the monolithic weight of slow builds and burns. Averill’s voice lends itself to gripping drama, his magical highs and gristly lows simply made for savagery and the telling of tales.

That voice, his bass licks, guitarist Eoin “Bones” H, and drummer Johnny “JK” King concoct music flowing from the blackened aorta of metal’s storied heart, and they don’t rush their spells. Both of these songs erupt in their own time, a giant middle-finger to the instant gratification chicanery of our ultra-modern age. This is the music of opposition, conflict, imagination, and history. It is recorded commensurate with sweat and spontaneity.

Going right for the throat, “Devil’s Bane” announces the album’s back half following a creepy, apropos-for-the-times interlude called “Viral Tomb.” This one is mean, direct, and resuscitated right from the ripping corpse of old Motorhead and Venom. The slow and syrupy mid-section brings us into Sabbath territory for a respite before finishing fast. That final chorus hits you in the face, slipping between the ears to get stuck therein and light up your dirty face with a grin.

But doom and its eldritch tendrils bleed from the pores of Alchemical Warfare. “Her Master’s Voice” is a dark rock monument, thank you very much 1970’s, as we bring the decade screaming into the present. Averill’s screams evoke the pure metal goodness of vintage Rob Halford, with a heart-wrenching chorus to boot.

“Ruin Upon the Temple Mount” begins with ominous keys/samples reminiscent of Averill’s New Wave-inspired project Aprilmen, before JK’s drums remind us of the metal storm that is surely about to hit. Rising like a beleaguered sun over a dying earth, this noisy bastard takes its sweet time settling into your senses, but when it does Averill’s grim exhortations compel us with the latent evil in Man, stirring like a cauldron of blackened doom metal strut. At 6:25 the hammer of darkness falls, completing the journey into lightless depths.

Alchemical Warfare concludes with a Bathory cover that makes you wish Averill would do an entire album of Bathory covers. “You Don’t Move Me (I Don’t Give a Fuck) is given a right thrashing, throbbing and pulsing with barely contained Satanic, raucous glee. Just as it should be. This is the music of small sweaty clubs, togetherness, and the actual spirit of heavy metal.

That is exactly what has been taken from us, and Alchemical Warfare, which was actually written and recorded in 2019 when the world was still something we recognized, stands as the most recent monument of sound from Alan Averill. Enjoy it - enjoy every single note, because if we cannot have back what the spirit of this superb album captures so brilliantly, we may not hear new music from Averill again. He, like the honest down-home metal he has created, has no place in an anodyne world, bereft of the only actual “normal” that matters. No one knows what 2021 is going to bring us, but one thing is sure. The metal albums that follow are going to have a hard time topping this one.

Track Listing
1. A Curse On Men

2. She Wolves Of The Savage Season

3. The Great Beast We Serve

4. Nature Is The Devil´s Church

5. Her Master´s Voice

6. Viral Tomb

7. Devil´s Bane

8. Ruin Upon The Temple Mount

9. You Don´t Move Me (I Don´t Give a Fuck)

Added: January 10th 2021
Reviewer: Nicholas Franco
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 839
Language: english

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