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The Wounded Kings – Consolamentum

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Enough ink has been spilled about “women in metal,” so I will skip directly to the part where Wounded Kings vocalist Sharie Neyland elevates their newest effort, Consolamentum, from merely great to something truly special. Everything else is in place — the album was recorded live, stone-cold riffs and grooves abound, slinky Mellotron passages at all the right moments — but the songs just wouldn’t sound right with a male voice. That isn’t to say Neyland has a soft delivery; her vocals are both assertive and commanding, much like O.G. lady rockers Grace Slick and Ann Wilson. But the witchy timbre and femininity couples perfectly with the extended Hammer horror doom jams contained within.

’70s-flavored doom has become a crowded subgenre over the last few years. The best bands that look to that era for inspiration are those that primarily capture the atmosphere and aura, not necessarily the riffs. Deep cut “The Silence” begins life with a great Sabbath hook, but evolves into something else entirely over the course of its 12-plus minutes. Swirling psychedelic feedback, downshifting tempos, and haunting keys that sit just right in the mix all play into the song’s central structure. The different elements keep the track fresh, which is vital for holding a listener’s attention on tunes that pass the double-digit minute mark.

Consolamentum, out on Candlelight Records on February 24 in Europe and February 25 in North America, never drags, and at 47 minutes, it is the perfect length for a gothy doom excursion. The Wounded Kings have had a rotating lineup since their inception, but hopefully they can keep all the current players on board moving forward. There’s no telling what heights — or dark, occult depths — are within their reach.

— Chris Rowella

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