Gallow God has channeled the gods of early doom metal and heavy metal with The Veneration of Serpents, their debut full-length release. It reminds us that heavy metal contains the word ‘heavy’: slow, weighty, held-down.
The album reminds me of Reverend Bizarre at times, even with the vocal styling. There are definitely influences from earlier forms of doom, such as Pentagram, Saint Vitus, and Candlemass (to name some commonly known bands). It is these styles that the band seems to salute, while creating their own path through the darkness.
The music is slow to mid-paced, but never falls to a crawling speed. The emphasis seems to be on the slower heavy metal feel over a more extreme funereal feel. But the songs are woefully melancholic, never picking up to a lively pace.
This is a stripped-down type of doom, which many bands have moved away from, opting for more ‘extreme’ music, but many fans miss the traditional feel; this is probably why it seems to be coming back with force. The production on the album does not sound dated, however, and it has a full sound.
“The Circle” (track 1) sets the mood for the rest of the album, and this is then experimented with until the end. You get what you paid for with The Veneration of Serpents, which I think is good, and the music is never tiring.
“Waters of Death, Thy Hands will not Cleanse” (track 2, and what a terrific title!) seems as though it’s going to be a faster, more up-beat song, after a brief introduction. But I think this is just Gallow God’s way of showing that they still love the more rockin’ ways of heavy metal. The song soon breaks down into an appropriately watery, forlorn, half-time part.
The album even features a cover of “Scarborough Fair” (track 6), the old trad’ folk staple. While not doing anything to harm the essence of the tune as it’s commonly known, they have turned it into a metal ballad. It’s energetic but true to the feeling of how I imagine it might have oringally been played. This is a nice cover that respects the old song.
“A Misers Land” (track 7) captures the spirit of this whole style brilliantly. There is an (understated) attitude there, but the song is also draining — the perfect combination of elements for this type of straight doom.
No matter how doomy some parts are, Gallow God never forgets the core of metal: rock. And they never forget to be heavy. This album is not brutal, nor is does it seem to drag (as far as this genre goes, that is); it’s a solid piece of doom with prominent traditional influences.
The vocals on The Veneration of Serpents are cleanly sung; they’re strong, deep, and just shattered enough to suit the austere atmosphere of the songs, but never restort to sounding whiney. Combined with the sky-punching, meandering riffs, clean guitar harmonies and hypnotising drums, the parts of this band add up to one hell-bound doom act.
I’ve truly enjoyed this band since I first came across them. They’re the not balls-to-the wall, jump-off-your-couch sort of band by any means, and they aren’t playing the kind of thing you groove out to. They play — doom. And they play it very well.
- Dan Tibbals – Vocals, Guitar
- Ricardo Veronese – Guitar
- Mitch Barrett – Bass
- Chris Takka – Drums
Written by Michael Kaltenbrunner