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THE WOUNDED KINGS (In The Chapel Of The Black Hand) CD

While I was listening to 'In The Chapel Of The Black Hand', the third and newest album of The Wounded Kings, lately I had to think about a conversation I once had with a guy I met in the town I used to study in. He found out I was into Doom and so was he. He was surprised I was more of a traditionalist. A Biker Rocker in his eyes. He told me traditional Doom was not sinister, not gloomy enough. He should listen to this album. This album is as threatening dark as they come. In fact this is as dark as Candlemass, Black Sabbath or Reverend Bizarre in their darkest moments. Riffs, mostly slow as decay, evoke a feeling of something wicked lurking in the shadows. The occasional Hammond organ gives you the eerie feeling. 

This is nothing new, but The Wounded Kings do it better than many others these days. Even better than themselves on the last album, I think. I was not sure why they do so at first. But after a few listening sessions it hit me. There are two major points that make this album better in my view. The first one is their playing with dynamics. Just listen to the opener 'The Cult Of Souls'. Apart from some really good riffs and melodies, the Kings sometimes just let the guitars get in the background a little, give room for some basic tribal drumming, even choral parts. The other thing that really hits off with me is the voice of new singer Sharie Neyland. She got that certain something in her voice that brings forth the doom. So the line-up change brought a positive change to the band. Steve Mills, only remaining original member of The Woudned Kings found four new people that really do a good job in evolving the sound of the Kings further. These days I am not the big fan of the ultra slow Doom anymore. 

But this album really has soemthing about it that makes it a really enjoyable listen. 'Gates Of Oblivion', is one of those songs, if I would describe it and later read the description, it might sound boring to me (and believe me I tried a few times). But somehow I really dig it. I can even stand the middle part with its effect-laden sounds. I am not sure if the rather short (4 minutes only) instrumental 'Return Of The Sorcerer' is named after Clark Ashton Smith's great short story but if so, the band gets extra credit from me. The closing title track even starts with someting like a groove. Not much though. Instead another menacing, slow track emerges. This album is the right soundtrack for the pissed off or sad traditionalist. 

(Thorsten Frahling)