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Druids – Monument

Druids
Monument
by Max Elias at 21 April 2019, 9:49 AM

On the new DRUIDS album—which if you ask me is really more of an EP—the three-piece taps into the fuzzy, heavy vein that they have been known for in the past. From the first track the influence of classic NWOBHM is on full display; the stomping riff that turns into a pedal-tone riff has the uplifting edge of that style. And of course a spacious, powerful chorus to complete the effect. Halfway through the track some tremolo work changes the feel of the song, introducing sweeping melodies before returning to the driving rhythms, and then back and forth until the chorus comes back, reminding the listener who this band owes their inspiration to.

‘Iron Healer’ continues the trend of sounding like something not out-of-place for an 80s NWOBHM or early thrash act; here again a stomping riff trades off with pummeling, slightly dissonant held chords, showing Druids’ penchant for switching between heavy and light. Vocalist Luke Rauch shows his aptitude for both melancholy cleans and modern-metal barks. The last minute or so of the song fades into a doomy groove complemented so well by the fuzz-drenched tone the guitars are using. The ordering of tracks on this album was no accident, as ‘Mirrors of Trigon’ picks up that doomy atmosphere where the preceding song left off. At over 9 minutes it is by far the longest thing on the album. When the song picks up the vocals shift from soaring to biting, almost like a more-growled version of the singer in Evile. I feel as though maybe they should have gone for a different guitar tone on this song, only because when they decide to pick-up the pace there is something unnerving about hearing thrashy riffs coated in that much fuzz. That said, although over 9 minutes in length, ‘Mirrors of Trigon’ manages not to get boring or too repetitive, which is a testament to thoughtful songwriting.

The band shows that it is not all about atmosphere and nothing else on ‘The Whip’. The song opens with a dancing pull-off sequence that crops up throughout, although as with previous songs, the stoner metal aesthetic is the center of their sound. It is the first song thus far to feature lead playing from Rauch, and his solo is half Tony Iommi, half Buck Dharma. The tremolo picking licks he uses remind me a lot of ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’, actually. The abrupt ending suits the song well.

Finally, we come to ‘Shivast’ which, being a fan of exotic scales and their incorporation into metal, I appreciated. The first riff has that evil harmonic minor quality, with just enough tension to draw you in. The rest of it is also consistently uptempo, making it a logical album ender. The exotic flourishes sprinkled among the riffage do a good job of adding to the song and keeping me from thinking I know what this band is up to. Around the 5-minute mark is what I’d say is my favorite riff on the entire album; epic yet driving, snaky, vaguely middle-eastern influenced heaviness. Overall, ‘Monument’ is a heavy, fuzzy slab of mostly stoner-influenced classic metal with some unexpected twists arising on occasion. I enjoyed listening to it, although I do admit that anything with that psychedelic of a guitar tone tends to run together a little for me.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. New Breath
2. Iron Healer
3. Mirrors of Trigon
4. The Whip
5. Shivast
Lineup:
Luke Rauch: Vocals/Guitar
Keith Rich: Drums
Drew Rauch: Vocals/Bass
Record Label: The Company
     


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Edited 18 July 2019
 

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