Realmbuilder - Summon The Stone Throwers
I Hate Records
Heavy/Doom Metal
7 songs (35:03)
Release year: 2010
I Hate Records
Reviewed by Goat

Out on vinyl for almost a year before its release on CD, the debut album from New York-based epic retromongers Realmbuilder very nearly didn’t get a writeup. A lot of Metal claims to be descended from the 80s, yet most of it lacks that essential Celtic Frost influence which, to me, turns it from a cheesy embarrassment to an ass-kicking head-banging storm of Metallic power, and no album which burdens under a title like this deserves to slip anyone’s attention without at least one eyebrow being quizzically raised. Unfortunately for Realmbuilder, vocalist (and drummer) Czar has the kind of teethgrindingly earnest, thinks-he-is-great-but-is-actually-painful singing voice which will put any refined Doomster off immediately – that they have truly dreadful harmonised backing vocals is even worse. Fortunately for Realmbuilder, guitarist J. H. Halberd is capable of coming up with enough decent solos to make suffering through the vocals worthwhile, although it falls short of what is necessary for an average album to become a great, or even good one.

Of course, if you can’t get enough of this sort of Conan-esque heroic stuff then you’ll eat Realmbuilder up, as wincingly amateurish as songs like the title track can be. Moments such as Ninety-Nine Raids have enough pounding heaviness to keep you listening, and there’s usually a killer solo or two in there, as mentioned. The band tend to write riffs rather than songs, keeping them going as long as they think they’ll get away with rather than creating anything meaning or worthwhile from the building blocks, yet this can have surprisingly pleasing results if you give the album enough time. Forgotten Minion’s rhythm-driven opening leads to a nicely retro little Hard Rocking moment with stompy riff sections, although those bloody harmonised vocals still manage to briefly pop up. The Tarnished Crown especially is a low point, however, godawful lyrics about mopey kings and their rusty headgear sung over mindless riffs, before switching to an endless ‘atmospheric’ section with turgid melodies repeated ad infinitum.

If this ultimately reminds me of anything, it’s High On Fire with all the Neanderthal spirit and speedy joie-de-vivre cut out. Realmbuilder plod where they should stomp, they meander where they should intensely pulverise, and instead of being the memorable playlist to an awesome weekend of beer-drinking and wench-fingering, they are instead the shameful soundtrack to a second-rate LARP convention. Their MySpace roaringly claims not to rely on ‘gimmicks or technical bravura’, but instead on ‘creative riffs, tasty solos and dramatic yet earnest vocals’ – well, their solos are undeniably good, but in terms of riffs and vocals especially a lot of work needs to be done. Like the colourful but wonderfully crap artwork, how much you enjoy Realmbuilder will depend on your tolerance for the earnestly amateur; NWOBHM was not something that needed a tongue in its cheek before it created anything enjoyable, and heartfelt but wince-worthy ‘tributes’ like this will impress no one. Add twenty to the (generous) score if you’ve seen both Conan films and Red Sonja, you complete and utter NERD.

Killing Songs :
Forgotten Minion (just)
Goat quoted 55 / 100
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