June 1, 2014

Dread Sovereign - All Hell's Martyrs

Written by Ulla Roschat.

Artwork by Costin Chioreanu

If Mr Alan Averill, alias “Nemtheanga” ever should consider to quit his career as a musician, which god forbid (or devil, or whoever is in charge here) he’ll always make a successful guru or cult leader. His ability to convey his passion and emotion via his voice combined with the charismatic aura of his personality is extremely captivating and enchanting.

I had the great pleasure to see him with his band Dread Sovereign on stage at the Heavy Days in Doomtown III festival in Copenhagen this year and, well, let me put it this way, if he had told me the earth was flat, I would simply have believed it. Luckily he is extremely busy using his persuasive power in his music in various bands and the newest one is Dread Sovereign in which Simon O’Laoghaire (Primordial) alias “SOLDubh” and “Bones” (Wizards of Firetop Mountain) join him.

Photo by Ulla.

The band formed in the beginning of 2013 in Dublin/Ireland and released a 3 song EP in April of the same year and their full length debut now one year later called All Hell’s Martyrs.

The first track is a short ambient psychedelic intro that kind of sets the sinister eerie mood for the album minus the heaviness, but you won't have to wait long for that, for the following songs offer tons of it. All Hell’s Martyrs is basically raw, old schoolish and occultish Doom, quite epic in style with a spacey and ambient edge to it which gives it a kind of modern classic Doom sound, intense and heavy, with a dense atmosphere of pure menacing evil. The songs are uncomplicated in their structure, but by no means simple. They are so carefully composed and arranged, with subtle variations, that make them both, very organic sounding and moving forward by momentums varying in their degree of impact, but always effective.

Everything (or most everything) is right in place, the heavy bass, the structurizing drums, the expressive passionate vocals that carry the melodies and the heavy guitar riffs and solos to die for.

Photo by Ulla.

All the different moods and emotions, be it sorrowful mourning, the menace in ritualistic chants or the pathos of hymnic worship, all feels right, nothing exaggerated, nothing weak and I never heard a song before, that could give such a majesty to sorrow and pain like the final song of the album “Live Through Martyrs - Transmissions From The Devil Star”.

As the album is quite long, its playing time is more than an hour, it was wise to give it some kind of partitioning elements and Dread Sovereign did this in form of two short instrumental interludes, which do even more than that. They suggest to listen to the album as a whole and in the given order, otherwise they don’t make much sense, and they function as doors or transition points that lead into another room, another level of atmosphere, where the light is even darker, the air still thicker and everything’s getting even more intense. The songs merge into each other seamlessly which is another hint to conceive the album as a complete and organic entity.

All this, but most of all the excellent musicianship of all band members and their ability to play off each other so well, gives the album that great sense of organic completeness. Listen to All Hell’s Martyrs and you’ll know this is not just “Nemtheanga” plus two, this is Dread Sovereign.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

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