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THE WOUNDED KINGS (Embrace Of The Narrow House) CD

I guess even 2008, when 'Embrace Of The Narrow House' originally came out as this is the reissue of The Wounded Kings' debut album, it was not really innovative to open an album with extremely slow riffs, Hammond organ sounds and spoken words. And so was and even more so today is occultism the main theme of the band. But that is okay. Which band can proudly describe itself as innovative anyways. Back in 2008, The Wounded Kings was just Steve Mills, who still is the band leader today, and singer, guitarist, bassist George Birch. The duo dug deep in the slow-mo heritage of their country as well as the style that was hip 4 years ago.

Snail-paced riffing is the main ingredient of the soup these guys were cooking. Seldom do they even dare to touch something like the nether regions of mid-tempo, guitar solos are rare and lo-fi. No showing off of technical guitar skills. Sometimes like in 'Melanthos' they are even covered by vocals. The second guitar more often tries to lay a tiny melody over the often repetitive riffing to avoid boredom. And it works. The keyboard is used for a similar cause. If you would try to compare the sound Of The Wounded Kings back then, I would say they sound as if early Cathedral and Reverend Bizarre were dancing a damn slow dance with dark Italian Prog sounds.

If you would compare it to their last album 'In The Chapel Of The Black Hand', it is less Rock. All Doom in its slowest, darkest and maybe meanest form when it comes to the traditional side of the genre. Just listen to the sick guitar sound in 'Master Of Witches'. The vocals of George Birch are pretty much buried in the mix. His mid-range vocals do not follow complex melodies, they sound more like easy to sing along chants of a ceremony master. This adds to the spooky vibe of the sound. I must admit that especially his voice sometimes turns me off. I surely prefer the current line-up of The Wounded Kings. Nevertheless, this album shows where Steve Mills was coming from and should appeal to the fans of the band if they have not tracked it down already.

(Thorsten Frahling)