Rorcal – ‘Heliogabalus’ Album Review

If staring into the gaping pit of hell is your thing then you’ve come to the right place. 66 tracks says the CD player but nothing’s happening… well apart from that annoying ticking…and then track seven arrives like a seismic shock, all droning bass and overdriven guitar played marginally slower than Khanate but with a production that could level the building. This is it – the darkest, deepest attack on the senses that a doom band has yet contemplated….and that includes The Puritan. Seriously, there is nothing to match this.

Housed in a pure black sleeve Rorcal apparently don’t do track titles – well not for promo copies anyway, but as you’re unlikely to download this to your pretty, pink Ipod shuffle anyway it hardly matters. What matters is the voice screaming at you from the void, relating untold misery. What matters are the earth shaking riffs and the near impenetrable levels of tension. What matters is that this is everything doom should be and probably everything your parents warned you about listening to metal. There is no redemption here. Tracks fade into one another without warning and with only minimal variation – so much so that this may as well only be one track because you’ll never separate them. What you will find, however, is that for the hardened doom fan this is no less than the Holy Grail. Blackened, twisted and darker than a black cat in a coal mine at midnight, this is the kind of soul shattering, enervating, deadly serious doom that purveyors of the genre have been attempting to create since Electric Wizard dubbed themselves the most misanthropic band in the world.

Immaculately recorded by Stephane Kroug, every instrument is reproduced in sludgy layers of distortion and resonant bass. Listening to this on your own at night is tantamount to praying for an embolism – especially if you’re brave enough to opt for headphones, but for all that, short of Khanate reforming, you won’t hear a band who are capable of producing a better take on deathly doom all year. This is ground zero – My Dying bride shorn of their gothic romanticism and realigned with Cop-era Swans or those formative Paradise lost records filtered through Sunn 0)))’s sound system. In short, this is an amazing record that taps into the rich vein of darkness deep inside it’s creator’s psyche and lets if seep out sucking the light out of everyday life and reproducing everything in an inky monochrome. Undoubtedly terrifying live, if you are a doom fan you should already have bought this record even before you finished this review but if not go to now and rectify your mistake. This. Is. Unmissable.

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  1. Mik October 21, 2010 12:42 am  Reply

    Recorded by Stéphane Kroug and Mixed and Mastered by Raphaël Bovey (drummer in the band Kruger)

    I think it’s a bit unfair not to mention it since he also did a great job at shaping the sound of that record.

    • phil October 21, 2010 10:09 am  Reply

      Actually I’m quite a fan of Kruger (as you’ll see from my review of that band) but you must appreciate that this is a reviews site not an encyclopedia and we can’t realistically mention everyone involved in the process of recording an album during a review. Nonetheless, as you bring it up, yes – he did an excellent job!

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