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Orodruin - "Epicurean Mass"
PsycheDOOMelic Records 2003

Before I truly dive into this review, I'd like to have one thing straight: what we've got here is not a bad record. It's just not very good either. It has lots of potential, however, that potential is mostly either misplaced or remains unexploited. And it's such a shame to waste perfectly good potential.

It seems that Orodruin, a band from the USA, intended to create a straightforward, no nonsense doom metal record. Which is fine. Except that, while sweeping away the needles (although rather profitable) nonsense, one must watch out for the things that are crucial for any musical work. For example: it's really okay to have riffs, lots of 'em. Catchy ones too. Except that you need to put those riffs into a bit of a context...emmm...some melody, some semblance of musical order... You can't just throw the things about at random and hope that it'll sound cool. And repeat them a couple of times (too many!) if no other ideas appear.

"The Almighty Riff" (whoever made this nonsense up...) or two just don't make a song. Even if you repeat them over and over and over again. The endless repeating of some riffs with nothing but a slight variation or two make some parts of this recording - which aims for melancholic - rather monotonous instead. Besides, some of them are so similar to the ones, used by the legendary Black Sabbath, that they make you wonder a bit... Listen to the track "Peasants Lament" carefully. Now, I'm not saying anything, but... Some other riffs, on the other hand, just aren't as good as the Sabbath-like ones. Actually, they sound sort of forced, made up just to take up space with no real soul or sense in them. There is lots of space for improvement left here - if Orodruin manage to get that riff thing sorted out...arrange the said items in a sensible way, invent (or borrow) some additional ones, give it all some heads, tails and context, their music could sound much better...

Moving away from the riff subject, there is, unfortunately, very little left. Orodruin gambled it all on the one card and it didn't come out too well. The shortcomings of the said card are rather obvious to me because all the other elements of the music - even the really good ones - were left in the background. Although low growling guitars, lots of distortion and a slow, heavy beat give the "Epicurean Mass" an unmistakably doomy character in a musical sense, the feeling, the emotional response-triggering element, is lacking. The only thing that makes me feel melancholic, nay, depressive, when it comes to the "Epicurean Mass" is the realization, how good a record it COULD HAVE BEEN!

The clean vocals are not merely promising, they are, indeed very good. A dark, rich voice, capable of both deep melancholia and a higher, more emotionally explosive expression. Grate singing with no shortcomings concerning melody, vocal span or intonation. And it is such a shame that these exemplary vocals are made to follow the music, hidden behind a plethora of (sometimes needlessly AND endlessly) repeating ...yep, you guessed it...riffs!!! Damn it, I know the things are important, but the music should help the song shine and be felt, not hide and hinder it. As for the death metal - like growls...if you're going to use them as a seasoning to the song, they're okay. Just don't do many more of them or consider making a whole track out of them, okay?

The guitar solos are another point worth mentioning. Although, they'd be worth HEARING as well. They're really classic stuff, making one think of the olden days, when metal as such was in its early years and the seriously technical hard rock was all the rage. But they get drowned out by the rhythm guitars all too often. Shame, really.

Of the other things, well...there IS the bass line. Nice, well expressed...my regards to the bass player ant the guy who composed the lines and the solo-ish parts. Good stuff! The production is fine. I've heard both better and worse. However, there seems to be a slight layer of distortion (or is it poor recording?) placed over the music as a whole, hiding the bright and promising stars in it even deeper into the gray monotonous quasi - gloom of the product as a whole.

The bottom line is that Orodruin have some work left to do. Maybe they could study the music of the various European Doom legends a bit further, maybe just try to express the strengths in their music a bit more - I guarantee that it wouldn't make their metal any less doom. But they certainly have to keep trying. With all the potential that's there, the next one might be a masterpiece. Which will make every doom-freak want this one, if for no other reason, at least to get it at a decent price, before it becomes an extra-rare classic.

Author:   Jaša

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