Reverend Bizarre - II: Crush the Insects
Spikefarm Records
Traditional/Stoner Doom
8 songs (73 mins)
Release year: 2005
Spikefarm Records
Reviewed by Dee

Hailing from Finland, the adopted home of all things doom, Reverend Bizarre are an established trio who play a seductive style of traditional doom metal. Already gaining in underground respect for releasing several so-called EPs that each contain over 70 minutes of music, this prolific band has already planned and written at least three more albums of material. Their latest release, "II: Crush the Insects", is a testament to their honed songwriting and tightness as a band.

This album is something of an oddity, as it feels like a three song stoner-doom EP tacked on to the front of a more traditional doom album. Nevertheless, the combination works well.

The proceedings kick off immediately with "Doom Over the World", a rock'n'roll style anthem that begins with a cymbal crash and a low bass note at the very instant that you press play. The guitar tone is certainly heavy, but not crushing in and of itself; the heaviness lies in how the band wields their distinctive sound. Albert's vocals are singular; sounding somewhat raucous, like a clergyman telling salacious tales to the nuns. As the song steadily unfolds, you come to appreciate their influences; this track has a clear Black Sabbath/St. Vitus aesthetic, as well as a strong party atmosphere - as the "Doom over the world! Eternal shall be my mission!" chorus refrains, a long sample of what I can only assume is the band drinking and laughing at the bar is overlaid, and stretches far beyond the conclusion of the song.

"The Devil Rides Out" comes next, opening with a very groovy, bassy stoner riff, complemented by liberal use of toms and crashes; it is here where you realise just how good the Earl of Void is behind the kit. This song flows exceptionally well, maintaining its driving, purposeful feel even through several changes of pace. The only slight complaint I have about this song is that the guitar tone isn't really suitable for solos; indeed, I would have preferred a drum solo by the capable Earl of Void. This track ends in an enjoyable Sabbath homage; the band plays a swingy, jazzy riff and fades into silence.

A short one-two-three-four played on the drums leads into "Cromwell", introducing its striking, stepped riffs. Magister Albert isn't far behind, describing the civil war and the power of the Ironsides. Each verse ends with an explosive drum fill, which is rare for trad - finally, a doom drummer who does more than merely keep time. The song is quite subtly constructed, with a second riff hidden inside of the song; this middle section stretches on for a while, but steps up gradually and you can't be bored by the pleasing progression. At some point in here you realise that not much singing has actually taken place, but the song has kept your attention throughout. The track ends with a simple use of the riff as an outro, concluding the stoner section of this album..

..and the difference is obvious from the first notes of "Slave of Satan"; the band has stepped back from their driving, rock'n'roll and is now working precisely, weaving a slow dirge as the backdrop to an inspired rant about the pretentions of so-called goths. The accuracy on show here is quite incredible when you take into account the crawling speed at which they are playing. Albert picks his moments, stretching a relatively short set of lyrics across a thirteen minute song. His half-rant, half-scream near the end of this track proves a fitting climax. Beautiful.

"Council of Ten" maintains the slow pace of the previous song; I felt the riff here was disappointing following Slave of Satan, but you can't have everything. This song progresses in sections rather than between verses and choruses, which is a nice touch, lending a little unpredictability to the mood. The pace picks up considerably for the last segment of this song, another groovy nod towards Sabbath, and a worthy one at that.

"By This Axe I Rule" begins as another slow dirge, except Albert comes in almost immediately and tells us that he has the urge to kill, foreshadowing the brilliant and frankly hilarious lyrics to come. Four minutes in, the track explodes, transforming into a headbanging blues-rock riff, perhaps the best on the album. Once Albert has delivered his grisly lyrics, the tempo drops, and a lethally slow, dropping riff takes charge, over which Albert screams and babbles eerily all the way to the conclusion at around ten minutes.

"Eternal Forest" follows, but feels strangely lifeless. I consider this the low point of the album, which is somewhat disconcerting as this is an eleven minute track. That's not to say that this song has no redeeming features; it simply does not compare to the rest of the material on this album, and would fit better on an EP, or maybe into the repertoire of a different band entirely.

The eighth and final track on the album, "Fucking Wizard" fully redeems the band, opening as a double homage to Holst's "Planet Suite" and to Black Sabbath's eponymous song. They certainly respect their influences. Albert has the chance to sing without drums for the first time on the album, but opts to whisper, speak, and rant his way through the long verse. Long means long; eight minutes pass as the band slowly plays more and more urgently, until - you know what's coming by now - the pace picks up and Albert starts singing over an incredibly enjoyable if simple riff, and you can tell he's enjoying himself as he "Woo!"s and "alright!"s his way through his lines. The band play without him for the remaining three minutes of the song, reprising the quasi-Mars them, and ending with a huge bluesy climax.

That took seventy five minutes. These guys are generous with their material.

All in all, this is an incredibly enjoyable album, epic in its own way while resisting all comparisons to Candlemass. Even at the doomiest, most droning point in the album, you never tire of their sound. I only wish Eternal Forest could have kept up the momentum.

Killing Songs :
Slave of Satan, By This Axe I Rule!
Dee quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Reverend Bizarre that we have reviewed:
Reverend Bizarre - III: So Long Suckers reviewed by Adam and quoted 98 / 100
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