Review: New Briton Rites Demos

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Briton Rites is one of doom metal’s best kept secrets. They’re something of an underground supergroup: they have Hour of 13’s vocalist on the mic, Howard Bentley of Cauldron Born on guitars, and an ex-Slough Feg drummer. Their debut, For Mircalla, is already considered a minor classic in more traditional metal circles. Based on these two demos for their upcoming and as yet untitled follow-up, they might top Mircalla.

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Briton Rites – “In Hell I Will Rule”

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I’m a little late on this one, like, over a year late, but oh well. With just over 3,000 views as I type this, I think it’s still news to the masses. “In Hell” tromps along with riffing built around muting, with a few open chords to add melody. Phil Swanson’s wavering, eerie vocals are perfect for this tale of usurping the devil’s throne. It’s the kind of power doom that bands like Argus and Altar of Oblivion play. It’s a sound meant to be heard by 50 metalheads at a time, all of them clad in Manilla Road t-shirts and leather jackets with Witchfinder General and Cirith Ungol patches. Speaking of Cirith Ungol, dig that guitar solo at 3:10, and the bass solo that follows. Sonic visions of Frost and Fire and The King of the Dead dance through my head.

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Briton Rites – “The Wizard’s Pipe”

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“The Wizard’s Pipe” opens with riffs that evoke vintage Cathedral, appropriate given that it’s about a wizard’s weed. If it’s not about a wizard’s weed (it probably isn’t), and is instead about maybe his tobacco (it probably isn’t), well, I don’t like that. (And I don’t, but I’ll cope) I’ll bet a stoned wizard would cast all kinds of crazy cantrips and polymorph people into animals that we find funny but unfortunate.

The Cathedral influence sticks throughout the song. The kick drum is active, laying down the heart of the song’s groove. Swanson is multitracked, but it sounds like the tracks are slightly out of sync, lending a hazy, spacey quality to the vocals. I keep expecting him to yell “Huggy bear, oh yeah!” He namechecks Pan; you know there’s some wine and fornication going down.

There’s no release date yet for the album, but it’ll probably be in 2013. It’ll probably be released on Bentley’s own label, Echoes of Crom Records. It’ll probably be awesome.

(It will be awesome.)

— Richard Street-Jammer

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