Released: 2010, Echoes Of Crom
There are times when you can really sense the passion and creativity in the Metal genre. Brtion Rites is one of those examples. Lots of bands put out albums, collections of songs, good times, good music, but it is less common when an artist really attempts to demonstrate to the fan the effort and creative drive in the creation of music.
Howie Bentley (of Cauldron fame) has put together a new project for his new label, Echoes Of Crom. This is the first issue of the label. Gathering a couple of veteran buddies, Howie has produced a real labour of love. Corbin King, (Vainglory, Kinrick) usually a guitarists, provides the drumming, putting his multi-instrumental talent on display. Howie handles all the guitars and bass but has a shot at singing on the last cut on the album. Vocals are admirably handled by Phil Swanson who has a slight nasal twang which might sound bad in writing, but in reality is not a bad thing it all, it works perfectly. I could hear hints of Ozzy, namely a singer with not a huge amount of range or power but so much charisma it shines through in the heart-felt delivery.
What the guys have put together is a bit of a conceptual or thematic album. Bentley goes into the concept in great detail in a two page mini-essay, talking about the construct of the album and the inspiration behind it, the characters, the stories. I really like it when bands do this; it adds depth. For a new project the package is good as well, lyrics, photos, liner notes and a very decent production and a creepy cover that matches the lyrical content within. Gothic horror, vampires and more creep through the engaging and entertaining stories.
Briton Rites is certainly a NWOBHM inspired, Gothic horror album, with lots of atmosphere. Really thick guitar tones, old style production on the drums give it a 70’s feel without a doubt. The songs are all epic in length six of the seven clocking in at over 8 minutes! A frame of reference might be excellent acts as Cathedral and Slough Feg and perhaps even a less frantic Cirith Ungol. The songs never get too fast, too unwieldy or out of control…they churn and burn just nicely. Some might suggest elements of doom but certainly not sludge or funeral doom just that nice zone that a more serious stoner metal band might try to occupy. The songs at times can really crank it up a notch like a juggernaut of sorts, pretty relentless but again never too frantic.
If every release on the Echoes Of Crom will have as much integrity as the debut Briton Rites, then I am easily predict a long and successful future for the label. Can Briton Rites duplicate the initial success of this band which has the slight feel of one-off project? I certainly hope so! Even if the artists involved turn their hand to other projects, either way, this will be a treasure for years to come.