The Wounded Kings - Visions in Bone
Candlelight Records
Doom Metal
5 songs (47' 17")
Release year: 2016
Myspace, Candlelight Records
Reviewed by Andy
Album of the month

The Wounded Kings met with some instability over the last few years. Following Sharie Neyland's unexpected departure from the band, original vocalist George Birch returned, much to fans' delight; even better, a new album was in the works. Alas, earlier this year the band decided to call it quits prior to the release of the new album, so Visions in Bone may be the last we ever hear from them. Appropriately, Visions in Bone has an echoing air of deadness and finality to it, a more minimalist composition than the band's last album with Birch, The Shadow Over Atlantis.

But if Visions in Bone doesn't have the same lush level of detail, it continues in the tradition of grandiose majesty and a sense of cosmic oppression that the Birch albums had. Sharie Neyland was an excellent vocalist who always delivered the goods, but George Birch's clean tenor is second to none in its evocation of atmosphere -- you can feel the mist curling around your knees with every drawn-out vibrato --, and the Mills/Birch team, adapted to a four-piece band, produces songs cast in the mold of their original sound. That sound consists of huge, echoing guitar/bass dirges, accented by keyboards and overlaid by squeaking little wah-wah solos. Beast, a track with an unusually traditional melody, but by the sixth minute the song has drifted off to a bluesy, Southern sound, the scraping guitars sounding like an Earth song. For all the dreamy blues-fugues, though, listeners in search of heaviness won't be disappointed, since crushing riffs are the order of the day on every track, breaking the rhythm occasionally to underscore lyrical passages and only occasionally upstaged by quiet interludes.

There's no denying that there's a different flavor on this than there was on The Shadow Over Atlantis. There's a new element of blues that can be found on Kingdom with roots in traditional American doom, and those tracks are a change from the dragging, misty behemoths of yore. They're not at all unpleasant, though, and as if to keep this influence from gaining a hold on the music, the new melodies usually only make it halfway through each song before it fades into dreamy keyboard and guitar noodling, coming out at the end of the tunnel fully transformed into a mammoth riff-monster. Bleeding Sky, the shortest track, is an exception; it lasts only four minutes, but the way it's played, it holds its own with its ten-minute siblings.

Visions in Bone will be a bittersweet parting for fans, but it's a strong finish that's filled with the qualities that made The Wounded Kings one of the best modern doom bands of recent years, and having George Birch back on vocal duties for this one sweetens the deal. Anyone who liked The Shadow Over Atlantis is likely to enjoy this one.

Killing Songs :
Beast, Bleeding Sky
Andy quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by The Wounded Kings that we have reviewed:
The Wounded Kings - Consolamentum reviewed by Andy and quoted 87 / 100
The Wounded Kings - In The Chapel Of The Black Hand reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
The Wounded Kings - The Shadow Over Atlantis reviewed by Kyle and quoted 83 / 100
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