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Alms - Act One

Act One
by Justin "Witty City' Wittenmeier at 02 July 2018, 5:26 AM

Take the classic song writing elements of URIAH HEEP, DEEP PURPLE, and throw in some Doom in the vain of PAGAN ALTAR and you will have a good idea of what Baltimore’s ALMS is trying to do with their debut album, “Act One.”  There have been many great Doom Metal releases this year and this album goes to show that the Doom tank isn’t slowing down at all.

Taking cues from their influences, this isn’t beaten down, kill yourself Gothic or Funeral Doom.    ALMS is made up of five talented musicians who have honed in on the classic 70’s vibe, albeit with a more heavy energy. Danny McDonald and Bob Sweeney have found that sweet spot between the thick riffs and classic stoner structures that, together, create an album that is full of groove but none of the darker elements of the genre.  This allows their sound to stretch outside its own boundaries yet still retain a classic Doom sound.

The opening track, “Dead Water,” immediately commands a presence with the bass drums and a sweet organ style keyboard riff.  Although it would be unfair to say this album focuses on nothing but keys, Jess Kamen is as essential to their sound as oxygen is to humans.  She definitely breathes a constant fire into the band, one of that ignites off the opening of “Dead Water,” and never lets up across the other five tracks. After a quick succession of drums, “The Toll,” throws in a huge riff then slows it down; at this moment Hans’ drums keep the thunder going with a rock-hard tempo.  Harris’ bass playing is thunderous, hammering in the foundation to which the whole band rests on.  He really keeps the heavy groove going during the verses. Speaking of which, Jess’ and Bob’s dual vocals work extremely well together.

The third track, “For Shame,” is definitely the most catchy song on the album.  It has a slightly more laid back feel to it, recalling to me moments of FU MANCHU.  I definitely see myself driving with the windows down on a cool Autumn night while blasting this song.  The guitars have a lot of wonderful melodies intertwined with the crushing riffs of the bass and the drums are an adventure unto themselves. “The Offering,” is a track that really lets the keys and guitars get in sync with each other, creating a twister of harmonies that are hypnotizing.   The thumping bass is a constant source of galloping Doom and really adds some head banging moments to offset the melodies.

The fifth track, “Deuces Low,” opens with melodic bass that flows into a sonic highway of slick riffs, catchy lead melodies, and more great dual vocals.  This song definitely reminded me of the underrated BLUE OYSTER CULT; it sounds like it could had been a long-lost track from their “Agents of Fortune,” album.  About halfway through the song, the band just jams out like they won’t ever play another song again.  The drums, bass guitars, keys…the whole band melds into one giant battering ram and finishes with a bang.

The final track, “Hallowed,” is a bit more traditional doom—it has a slower build up than the previous tracks but the payoff is worth it.  I really liked the stonerish, hazy vocals because I felt it worked with the more fuzzed out style the band went with the song, especially in the drums and bass which are very much present and the driving force of the song. For a debut, this album is rather impressive and consider the title, I going to assume we will hear from them again.  I can’t wait to see how this band grows and what they will give us next.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Dead Water
2. The Toll
3. For Shame
4. The Offering
5. Deuces Low
6. Hollowed
Andrew Harris- Bass
Derrick Hans – Drums
Danny McDonald – Guitars
Bob Sweeney – Guitars, Vocals
Jess Kamen – Keyboards, Vocals
Record Label: Shadow Kingdom Records


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