SubRosa - Strega
I Hate Records
Psychedelic Doom, Experimental Rock
11 songs (41:12)
Release year: 2008
SubRosa, I Hate Records
Reviewed by Goat
Surprise of the month

Prepare yourselves, ye denizens of Doom, for a calamity has befallen the genre such has not been seen since Paradise Lost got a hit single. Yes, it’s women. Women! In Doom! The idea’s outlandish and offensive enough on its own, especially once you realise that said females aren’t merely on keyboards or backing vocals, but make up an entire band. Go on, take a deep breath, you’ll need it. They also come from Salt Lake City, Utah, and are of Mormon origin, if not still practising.

Now that you’ve all picked yourselves up and had a stiff, fortifying shot of distilled Candlemass to keep those nerves steady, get ready for the real shocker: SubRosa are the best, most original Doom band to come along in a while. Whilst some may compare them with labelmates Jex Thoth, the similarities begin and end with the female vocals – here, the PJ Harveyesque dual vocals of Rebecca Vernon (guitars) and Sarah Pendleton (violin) merge wonderfully, giving tracks a genuinely melancholic edge. Add to this the clear influence that the band has from slave Spirituals, and Strega becomes more of a hymnbook than an album. The very loud bass acts as a blanket fog over the other instruments, making guitar and violin especially distant wails rather than their usual upfront selves, and the noisy drums give everything an immediacy and urgency that most Doom bands will never manage to attain.

What’s more, the songs themselves are stellar, working as well individually as a single album. Opener Sugar Creek has the casual Jazziness that Noise Rock often does so well, touching on the Avant-Garde instrumentally. Crucible follows in the same vein, the backing melodies becoming more disturbing as you gradually notice them. Christine ups the psychedelia, whilst the six-minute title track is a joyous dirge, the eerie wailings of a high priestess at some dark ceremony. It’s one highlight amongst many when listened to with the other songs, and you’ll be as equally impressed with the ‘man-at-war’ lament of Isaac, the raw garage Rock N’Roll of Black Joan, or (my favourite) the a cappella Go Down Moses, which is about as emotionally haunting as music can get.

Although it’s going to be a long, long time - if ever - before women are as acceptable in Metal as men, the fact remains that a similar band with male members would be nowhere near as good. The female of the species is generally assumed to access the emotional side of the human nature much better than the male can - to be astonishingly simplistic for a moment - and even though Metal wouldn’t be Metal without the brutal male input, it wouldn’t be Metal without that subtle feminine aspect, either. Sure, women can’t do everything better than men can, but if the results are this excellent then SubRosa are a serious argument for letting the ladies do whatever the hell they want.

Killing Songs :
Sugar Creek, Crucible, Strega, Isaac, Go Down Moses, Self-Rule, Cradles
Goat quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by SubRosa that we have reviewed:
SubRosa - No Help for the Mighty Ones reviewed by Charles and quoted 93 / 100
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