Doom is at its best when played at speeds best approximating the movement of molasses in winter and with a darkly romantic edge that speaks of red crushed velvet and warm, salt blood trickling down a pale white neck. Gevaudan are a traditional doom band following in the footsteps of Black Sabbath and Candlemass, favouring such romanticism and dealing in skull-crushing riffs best played at earth-threatening volumes. This three-track EP (which at twenty-eight minutes in length challenges some albums), is the third release from the UK-based band (following 2014’s ‘Message for the damned’ EP and 2015’s ‘the burning of the black sun’ single) and it stands good on their promise to “blend the crushing riffs and dark atmosphere of traditional doom with a modern metal edge”, not least thanks to a potent melodic gift that helps their songs to stand out from the black-clad crowd.
Opening with the Sabbath-esque ‘Wastes Eternal’, the band demonstrate their commitment to an obsidian opulence with this nine-minute epic, taking in huge, Iommi-esque riffs, dark monologues and rampant soloing across the course of the track. Fans of Candlemass and Dio-era Sabbath will be particularly taken with the mix of the melodic, the metallic and the medieval, and the track appears to pass in a fraction of its actual run time. Adam Pirmohamed has a fine voice, capturing the dread and despair of the lyrics whilst Bruce Hamilton clearly enjoys shuffling across his effects board as he conjures up an atmosphere of swirling mystery with his varied riffs. ‘The ninth circle’ starts in a wash of reverb as Adam plunges himself into a performance that recalls the shaky scenery and washed out colour of a Vincent Price movie. Driven by drama and an atmosphere of decay, ‘the ninth circle’ is built upon riffs hewn from the living rock and the spicy scent of sulphur pervades the room as the track drags the listener ever further toward the gaping mouth of hell. The EP ends with ‘Lord of decay’, a bruising, hulking monster that tears its way into your consciousness via a stream of arcing feedback and then physically drags you into its dark world, kicking and screaming, with its down-tuned riffs and a vocal performance that edges into My Dying Bride territory. With a harrowing, wind-swept conclusion, it brings the EP to a crushing close and it marks out Gevaudan as one of doom’s darkest new hopes.
Resolutely uncommercial, Doom is one of those genres populated by true believers whose passion for the music they play is writ large in every raging riff and every nerve-wracked vocal. Gevaudan are no exception – they play from the very core of their dark hearts and the result is an EP which will thrill doom fans everywhere. Drawing upon doom’s rich heritage, here you’ll find elements of Sabbath, MDB and Candlemass all drawn together and invigorated by Adam’s glorious theatricality and Bruce’s immense riffing. This is true doom, dark, abrasive and diabolically essential. 9