This is long overdue, and I’d like to apologise to Nate, who asked me to give his band’s record a listen back in July.
More to the point, I’d like to apologise to myself.
I’m a fan of proto metal/doom: Budgie, Toad, Blue Cheer, anything especially gritty and misanthropic that you could have downloaded from the late, lamented Chris Goes Rock blog. And Wicked Inquisition straddle a space between the bubbling-over energy and wide-open skies heaviness of these bands and the assured vintage doom stomp of genre pioneers like Pentagram and Saint Vitus. This is a wonderful EP, brimming with emphatic, catchy pentatonic grooves, psychedelic allegations and a palpable aura of herbal fumes, bell-bottom blues and a rowdy young quartet working a riff like there’s no tomorrow.
The opening track, ‘The Jester’s Crown’ brings the Budgie comparisons to the forefront, while ‘Brainstorm’ positively bristles with riffs, feeling like an epic doom-fest despite its concise 4.49 minute run time. Shades of Saint Vitus, Pentagram, Trouble, and a Wino-esque vocal delivery along with flailing, infectious leads that reminded me of Wino, once again, with elements of Victor Griffin and Dave Chandler, don’t prevent the song from also sounding fresh and original. The drum work is absolutely idiomatic and keeps the energy levels high, and the drums are also mixed well, punching through the mix as needed, but without an overly bright, modern sound.
The instrumental ‘Blue Nightshade’ sees lead Nate laying down some soaring, questing distorted lead lines over a mellow apreggiated backing. It’s a song to sway to, an atmospheric and oddly anthemic interlude before the last song in the EP, ‘Radius of Fear’ kicks in with some wonderfully assured, quietly doomy riffing. This one really screams vintage Pentagram, and the vocal delivery is some of the best among this set of songs. The contrasting riffs, upbeat and chuggy versus spaced out and doomy, complement each other brilliantly. The thick, dark and juicy guitar tone is just right for this kind of music and when the bass guitar steps out a little bit from the mix, it just adds to that free-for-all retro rocking atmosphere.
My favourite tracks on this EP are ‘Brainstorm’ and ‘Radius of Fear’. These are archetypal no-nonsense hard-rocking doom songs which pack in lots of great ideas into relatively short time-frames and are instantly memorable. I wish I’d treated myself to the chance to listen ‘Silence Thereafter’ a lot sooner, but this one is going to keep popping up in my playlist now that I have. Wicked Inquisition is the real deal, not just a trendy retro simulacrum. I can’t wait for their first full-length and I wish I lived someplace where I was likely to catch them live!