The Wounded Kings
The Shadow Over Atlantis

As the savvy consumer of modern doom will expect, The Wounded KingsThe Shadow Over Atlantis offers a miserablist stew of downtempo post-Sabbath and Electric Wizardisms, here with a dash of the vast ‘n gloomy Cinemascope soundscapes of Year of No Light. But repeat listens reveal a relentless darkness and design here courtesy huge-ass masses of guttural, disturbingly tremulous, way distorted guitar supporting actual trad melody topped off by guitarist/vocalist George Birch’s agonizing single string psychedelia. Point is, and despite being assembled from parts we’ve heard used in other combos endlessly, The Shadow Over Atlantis is a true vision thing that nobody should forget to include at high rank on their year’s best doom lists.

Two ten-minute-plus songs bookmark the album, the more impressive of which is “The Swirling Mist,” which lives up to the title nicely, thank you, all guitar grind and crushed organ swamped in band-enveloping, deep cave reverb. It’s all kept in time by oddly groove-informed funereal drums, and laced again with Birch’s high-fret, sky-tracing guitar squalls. Another standout, “The Sons of Bellal” goes deeper, faster–all things being relative in doom metal pacing. With its blatant, grueling down-tunism, “The Sons” drifts dangerously near Sunn O))) land. Lucky for us, The Wounded Kings aren’t happy to sit on one chord for three weeks and call it Art.

That is, with The Wounded Kings, there’s always something going on. There’s beautifully cooing feedback idyls, the tinkle of a keyboard that sounds like Krzysztof Komeda’s theme for ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, and voices whispering like we’re in ‘Susperia’, as in the Dario Argento film whose soundtrack by Goblin that you know these guys have heard.

You’re probably wondering about vocals. Mills, also the producer here, encourages you to wonder. That is, he understands an often-ignored key to this brand of doom: you kind of don’t want to hear the vocals all that much. You want vocals that are lost, God knows where. You want mystery.

And so the vocals―both Birch and Mills get vocal credits―become just another element in Mills’ Candlemass-y wall of sound. They’re woeful, quavering tenor things just loud enough to betray a word here, a sentence there and back in the swamp with you. No NeurIsis scream-howling, or Goatsnake stoner blues, or Kyuss-ish classic rock-gone-bad. There are unnerving moments when you really can catch a touch of generic goth but those are just dreadful moments that pass quickly. Vocal gaffes aside, there’s a true sense of dark sonic architectures here, of us being able to kick back and let go with a deep doom-fan ‘whoah’. The chances of another this rich, this eerie, this, in a weird way, catchy, well the odds on that aren’t very good.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Ian Grey
July 19th, 2010


  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    this sounds radical.

  2. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Nice first review Ian- welcome aboard

  3. Commented by: Ian
  4. Commented by: Cal

    This is the best doom offering I’ve heard in quite a while. Thanks for the great review.

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