The Order Of Israfel - Red Robes
The Order of Israfel from Gothenburg in Sweden, have produced a doom masterpiece on this their second album Red Robes. This band produce the heaviest speaker shaking riffs you are likely to hear in 2016; alongside some very beautifully paced softer musical contrasts, both vocally and instrumentally.
Opening track on the album Staff in the Sand, for example, has an introductory traditional acoustic folk melody, played by the group ILL WICKER, before the band come in with a pulverising riff of epic proportions. Tom Sutton's first vocal lines announce "Deep in sacred forests, silent beneath the trees....", and an atmosphere of fear and foreboding immediately permeates the music.
Title track The Red Robes shows off how well crafted the songs are on this album. The song journeys through a classic doom heavy riff, and a quite eerie vocal refrain of "Words are spoken, spells are broken, worlds are woken...", into some striking lead guitar passages, full of melody and atmospheric sustain; before a beautiful unaccompanied hymn like harmonised vocal section swoops into the mix. After a reprise of the main riff and vocal refrain, a gentle acoustic guitar end section waves the song's final goodbye. Ambitious and skilfully executed, this is simply superb!
Fallen Children is a poignant acoustic song, with a vocal full of emotion. This is a track which Tom has widely revealed as a song celebrating what Black Sabbath have meant to the Metal community, and it's a very fitting tribute.
The centrepiece of the album is the 15 minutes plus The Thirst. The opening chords are incredibly atmospheric, and there are some classic cymbal crashes weaving through the guitars. Throughout the piece there are very nuanced changes of pace and musical theme, with a slow build up of musical tension, that is released in a short rock out section, before returning to a repeated single momentous chord, that simply takes your breath way. It's doom pushing at the boundaries of what is possible musically and conceptually.
This suite of songs deserves to be heard live, and we can only hope some gigs in the UK are in the offering for The Order Of Israfel in the near future. 2016 is turning out to be great for Metal and heavy music in general, and this is yet another addition to the ever growing "must listen" list for this year. Just brilliant!