So far I had no chance to listen to the debut album 'Embrace of the Narrow House' from THE WOUNDED KINGS, a relatively new doom metal band from England. But after listening several times in a row to their second full-length 'The Shadow Over Atlantis', released in 2010 by I Hate Records, I have to admit that my interest has been aroused. THE WOUNDED KINGS are disciples of the occultist path drawing on influences from obscure mysteries as well as from the usual suspects like Edgar Allan Poe, Dante's Inferno and Milton's Paradise Lost. Except for Edgar Allan Poe the rest leaves me cold, but I feel attracted by their musical influences. After the first minutes have passed from the first song 'The Swirling Mist', my impressions and associations merge and only one band comes to my mind: Cathedral. In particular, it's the first demo and the debut record 'Forest of Equilibrium' which have left permanent marks in the monumental sound of THE WOUNDED KINGS.
That is no negative criticism, because in my world Cathedral's first album is one of the milestones in the history of doom. In doing so, the pace is also slow, but never too viscous. It is very exciting to hear how they manage to create a dense and bleak atmosphere including some psychedelic undertones. This is also supported by 'Into the Ocean's Abyss' and 'Deathless Echo', two short instrumental tracks with additional piano and organ, respectively. The band explores the plummeting depths of mysticism repeatedly and there is not an element of cheer anywhere on the album. In contrast to Lee Dorrian's crooked vocals, guitarist George Birch prefers a clear and lethargic style which ensures a nice contrast to the crushing riffs. A further advantage are the subtle melodies being woven into the epic song arrangements. That's why all six songs get stuck in one's head for a longer period. The guitar solos, when they appear, are intense and powerful, giving a face to the suffocating heaviness. THE WOUNDED KINGS have managed to record an album which has strength and overpowers the listener with sheer sonic majesty. As a bonus, I'm impressed by its emotional depth.