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RITUALS OF THE OAK (Come Taste The Doom) LP/CD

This is already the second album from Australia's most popular traditional Doom band, Rituals Of The Oak. As there is no typical Aussie Doom sound, so to speak, the band sounds more European than American. I must admit I have not really paid attention to their debut album so I cannot say how much they developed, but I can say that there is nothing bad about this album (maybe the clichéd title). I would not even criticize the fact that singer Sabine Hamad is very present in the mix. But to be honest, that is quite okay, cause Sabine is what sets the band apart in my opinion. If the band had another male singer that would follow the lines of, for example, a good part of the Finnish scene, I guess Rituals Of The Oak would gain less attention. No, ladies and gentlemen, Sabine is very essential for the sound.

And already in the first track called 'Here', her voice can rank from rather low tones to pretty highs without sounding bad in either extreme. Her voice is never sounding like an elf, nor trying to sound grunty or aggressive or whatever, and especially in the midrange it goes hand in hand with the mood of the songs. Rituals Of The Oak play their Doom without much of groove. Your are definitely wrong with Rituals Of The Oak if you need a good dose of Rock in your Doom. Sure, there are moments when the band reminds a bit of Candlemass or Solitude Aeturnus, but there is not much epicness in the band's sound. I would say, the Doom that the band makes you taste, is the one of bands like Reverend Bizarre or Lord Vicar with a dose of early Count Raven here and there. But this is not so much in your face but has more a laid-back, melancholic and introspective vibe. Listen to the last minutes of 'The Horla' or the beginning of 'On The Sixth Moon', where the band touches the cliche of metal ballads. One riff gives me a bit of the feeling that Warning used to evoke.

Same goes for 'Serpentine Tongues'. The band is using the effect of dynamic changes, different doses of distortion and changes between heavy riffing, tiny, doomy melodies and fingerpicking acoustic guitars very well. 'All Wells Are Poisend' with its acoustic guitar and choir has a Celtc Folk feel before the band shifts gears into the Doom mode again and shows one last time that they can write a rather long but interesting song in which drummer Matthew Shriffer shows that he is does not only master the straight Doom drumming but also the ability to play some progressive stuff that shown through before but here it is the most obvious. The whole album has a flow that makes it a pretty good listening experience and when you do not pay much of attention you will have problems to say when one song ends and another begins. Altogether, this is a good album. Period.

(Thorsten Frahling)