Dread Sovereign – Alchemical Warfare
Reviewed: January 2021
Released: 2021, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Full disclosure – the last time I paid any attention to Primordial was around SPIRIT THE EARTH AFLAME, and I had zero inclinations that Nemtheanga had been spending the last few years moonlighting with a pretty outstanding doom metal band under the moniker Dread Sovereign. Though their third full length ALCHEMICAL WARFARE was intentionally postponed until January, allow me to whet your appetites and tell you how good this album is and how much it’ll kick your ass when you do get to hear it.
The press release accompanied with the album draws comparisons to Venom, Hawkwind and Hellhammer, which at its most simplistic level jives correct. There’s no shortage of not to be taken too seriously satanic panic themes across the album, nor spacy riffs and hazy hooks. But you’ll also hear nods to the gallows horror of Electric Wizard and the primal melodies of first gen Paradise Lost. Listening to tracks like “She Wolves of the Savage Season”, “The Great Beast We Serve”, and “Devil’s Bane”, I kept thinking that if the guitars were cleaner and in standard tuning, they could easily pass for the kind of early 80’s trad metal that you’d find in your local record store’s import collection (remember when those were a thing?). And let’s not forget our guy Nem – he sounds like he’s having much more fun here than with the pressing magnitude of his day job. He’s crooning with full lungs about the Devil and ancient spectres like his life depends on it, it makes me want to revisit more of his back catalog.
But that speaks to the strength of the material on ALCHEMICAL WARFARE – it’s a collection of thoughtfully crafted metal tunes wrapped in a heretical blanket of doom that works incredibly well. The epic “Nature is the Devil’s Church” and the aforementioned “Devil’s Bane” rage with fuzzy, galloping fury while simultaneously invoking the name of our dark lord and savior. My personal fav, “Ruin Upon The Temple Mount” is an epic quasi closer that spends 4 minutes building with anticipation before transitioning into they best almost-Candlemass cover you’ll hear this year (or next). The album’s proper closer is a cover of Bathory’s “You Don’t Move Me (I Don’t Give a Fuck)”, which manages to successfully translate the raw middle finger punk of the original into ALCHEMICAL WARFARE’s grimy dungeon metal vibe. Horns up for a Quorthon deep cut, fellas.
Tickle me surprised at stumbling into a band that I’m sure some of you were already familiar with, but better late than never, right? It definitely took a couple of listens to ALCHEMICAL WARFARE before it all “clicked”, but man, I’ve enjoyed the hell out of this album. And if you will too if you know what’s good for you when it releases in January. Until then, study up on Dread Sovereign’s prior body of work to prepare yourself for the impending sacrifice to come