Although With the Dead have gone from being one part Cathedral, two parts Electric Wizard to two parts Cathedral, one part Electric Wizard with the addition of Leo Smee and subtraction or Mark Greening, this doomy supergroup’s legacy is still very much intact. This latest Lee Dorrian project is his self-stated antithesis to hipster doom, tackling gloomy topics like hospitalization, addiction and urban decay over its massive 67-minute runtime, without a single wah pedal in sight!
“Isolation” opens the proceedings with eight minutes of downtuned despondency. The Bagshaw riffs on this one are reminiscent of early Electric Wizard and even display shades of Forest of Equilibrium, while the hoarsely shouted verses and droning chorus vocals only add to the bleak, dreary atmosphere. “Egyptian Tomb” adds some more melodic guitar lines to an equally gloomy effort, with Dorrian getting back toward his more typical vocal fare—although there’s nary a mention of Huggy Bear here…
“Reincarnation of Yesterday” is slightly shorter than its predecessors, at a shade over six-and-a-half minutes, but it is no less punishing, with a languid, oozing guitar riff over a pounding, pulsating backbeat. “Cocaine Phantoms” takes a grimier, sludgier approach—its growling, gurgling tempo is somewhat akin to Winter.
“Watching the Ward Go By” begins with the eerie sounds from an actual hospital, combined with a singular, slow-picked guitar riff for three-and-a-half minutes, before adding some eerie, spoken-word poetry to the mix. We’re more than halfway through it’s 10+ minute runtime before we get the first anguished cry combined with a heavy riff—and it hits like a fuckton of bricks!
Fans of early Cathedral would definitely dig this album. While the band sorta lost the plot with its overly proggy tendencies in later days, Dorrian has returned to his roots with another slice of pure, solid doom.
(Rise Above Records)