By Kyle Harcott
First thing I read about the DoomDogs from their record company is: “DoomDogs are heavy. And we mean HEAVY, as if you could feel the earth crumbling under your feet every time they strike a chord.” Being the jaded, cynical bastard that I am – a claim like that initially prompts a scoff under my breath. But, after a few listens, even though the earth didn’t exactly move under my feet, I’ll concede that DoomDogs is a fair solid slab of thud-rock. I’d go so far as to say that, from the opening bombardier riff of “Fight the Greed”, DoomDogs is a notch or two above a lot of doom records I’ve subjected myself to lately. Since they formed in 2006, Gothenburg’s DoomDogs have been working and whiling away to try and come up with the best possible doom record they could, with a production vibe that’s straight-up 1972.
Now, vocalist Tomas “GG” Eriksson’s claim to fame is that he used to play drums in Grotesque, some of whose members went on to form a little band called At The Gates – and fair enough. But here, it’s more than anything the molasses-thick riffs and drinking-bleach-baleful solos of Christer Cuñat that set DoomDogs apart – his guitar work captures a certain soul that so many doom bands miss in their rush to sound like someone else. Then again, maybe this record’s edge is the much-vaunted 24-track, two-inch-tape analog recording process the band used, because there is definitely a magic here. I’m going to have to find a copy of this on vinyl and see if it sounds even warmer.
As I mentioned, opener “Fight the Greed” is an eight-minute exercise in let’s-see-how-heavy – the guitar leads ring like bolts of lightning hurled from Olympus. If I had to pick a standout track (on an album mostly full of killer), it’d likely be this one. “Dogs of Doom” follows, erupting with a kind of early-Motörhead, speed-boogie vibe. Other tracks recall the best of Crowbar and at times, moments of in-their-prime Kyuss. Now, while it may seem like all I’m doing is illustrating how cognate DoomDogs come across as, I mean no disrespect, as I think this is one of the best doom albums I’ve heard in a long time; let’s face it, any doom album you’re going to pick up is by its very nature, derivative of something. There are only so many ways to deconstruct and reconstruct Lord Iommi’s riffs. “The Game” quickly loses steam, but “I’m Sure” with its hole-in-the-sky-ish lead, kicks things back into proper gear. Erikson’s tortured throat recalls something along the lines of LG Petrov if he sang for Candlemass instead. The disc is rounded out with the stellar, nine-minute lurcher “Calling” and closer “Shout” which had me digging for my old Transport League CDs, because I thought for sure I was hearing a cover.
All in all, DoomDogs have thrown the best parts of all your favourite doom bands’ best albums into their sonic cauldron and have sour-mashed the very finest elements of those albums together, and distilled the resultant potion down into one badazzz doom record.