Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bells of Doom - The Death of God (2001)

I feel like traditional doom metal is scarce these days. Most bands are combining doom with another subgenre of metal, altering the backbone of the music and experimenting with different kinds of sounds. Following the paradigm set by Pentagram, Candlemass, and Black Sabbath, Bells of Doom plays no-frills doom metal that's absolutely plodding and perfect for those creepy nights alone as you contemplate music suitable for the mood. The one-man project's only release, The Death of God, was released in 2001, but, much to my dismay, the band quickly folded with no signs of resurfacing with future work. In spite of that, Bells of Doom's demo gives us a positively epic three tracks of traditional doom metal that pays wonderful homage to the subgenre's greats.
The Death of God offers little you haven't heard before if you've ever looked into any doom metal. One part slow tempos, another part ominous guitar riffs, the next clean, yet low-placed vocals--that's Bells of Doom in a nutshell. Multifaceted, but never too complicated, Nicklas Rudolfsson plays every instrument on the demo. Normally I would hail this as some kind of feat, but the bulk of the instrumentals are relatively simple, and the way doom metal should be if it wants to stay within the accepted scope of the subgenre. Abstract doom metal runs the risk of morphing into another type of metal or, at the very least, fusing with something completely different and becoming one of the contemporary bands that sidesteps the acknowledged boundaries of the music. Thankfully, Bells of Doom goes nowhere near that and sticks to strong, heavy riffs, while slowing tempos down enough to make any doom metal fan salivate.

There's not much to dislike on The Death of God if you're a doom-head, but if you come from a musical background, you might hope for colorful guitar solos or a crazy vocal performance. Quite frankly, both are pedestrian, even by doom metal standards and could have used a nudge in the right direction concerning a passionate showing. Nonetheless, when push comes to shove, they get the job done adequately. And really, complaints aren't going to get us anywhere because Bells of Doom has been dead for years now. There is no successor to this demo. It was a speck on everyone's radar when it was released. Still is.

Clocking in at a measly 17 minutes, The Death of God leaves you wanting more. But you're not going to get more. Rudolfsson has moved on, presumably to bigger and better things, which is truly a loss if you ask me because his project had a ridiculous amount of potential. I often catch myself thinking about what a full-length would be like or what an enhanced production would do for the music's longevity. Those and other factors would improve the already excellent formula Bells of Doom showed us with The Death of God, but, at this point, it would take a world catastrophe to shake it out. Or, you know, a stroke of luck. I sincerely hope Rudolfsson will rekindle his love for the project and rejoin the blueprint Pentagram and others laid out so many years ago.


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