The Order of Israfel - Red Robes
Napalm Records
Doom Metal
8 songs (57' 52")
Release year: 2016
Napalm Records
Reviewed by Andy

Swedish doomsters The Order of Israfel, returning with their sophomore album, provide a similar sound to Wisdom, in the form of tons of Sabbath worship, sword-and-sorcery lyrics, and a technical, riff-driven approach with a bit of 70s psychedelia clinging to it. This kind of dirty, no-frills doom is hard not to like.

The monotone chords, counterpointed by guitarist/vocalist Tom Sutton's gritty and rather thin vocals, chug through the songs with a selection of harmonies -- only A Shadow in the Hills is as fast as On Black Wings, A Demon had been, but still varied enough in tempo to keep the songs from blending together. Sutton's never going to win prizes for the most beautiful voice, but it fits the songs (which he also wrote) nicely and the listener quickly gets used to it. Staff in the Sand and The Red Robes both combine the occult themes of the band with 70s-style, wah-wah-infused guitar soloing along the lines of a Pale Divine album -- indeed, though Staffan Björck's shredding abilities can't easily beat Greg Diener's, there are a lot of similarities --, and there is a lot more of it than there was on Wisdom.

Given its often-clean vocals and horror-movie influences, doom sometimes is best when the band doesn't mind adding some extra cheese. Red Robes proves to be no exception: It's no coincidence that the vampire ballad of Von Sturmer and the wonderfully headbangable speed-doom of A Shadow in the Hills, the latter so fast that Sutton can barely get the words out in time to fit the tempo, are two of the highlights. The album wraps up with The Thirst, which goes back to a slow, funereal dragging that drips misery and resignation, the drumbeats following the drawn-out riffs with more and more painful slowness.

Ultimately, the ability of The Order of Israfel to mix doom styles, while still staying true to tradition in a lot of ways, is the key to their success. 70s psychedelic rock influences and more recent Cathedral-style crushing unite seamlessly on Red Robes to make a strong contender for best-of lists in the doom category for this year.

Killing Songs :
Staff in the Sand, Von Sturmer, A Shadow in the Hills, The Thirst
Andy quoted 85 / 100
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