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VINUM SABBATUM (Bacchanale Premiere) CD/LP

So here we are with another 45 minutes for those apt to listen to "Retro Rock". Yep, Vinum Sabbatum cannot deny that, with all the other 70s-sounding bands around, they fall into that roster of current retro rockers from the north somehow. But then again not so much as others. Why is that? There are a few things. The Finnish 5-piece has something most other 70s rockers lack. A Hammond Organ. And someone, that is maybe neither John Lord nor Jen Hensley. But there are a lot of other bands from that area with an organist not as good as those two, who still rock. Another thing that sets the band apart from its peers is that they are a lot doomier. The opener 'Earthrise', a 9 minutes long slap of slowness, shows that pretty impressively.

With the 'Gospel Of Mary', a bit more of groove comes into play nonetheless. The organ intro of 'Tombstone Rider' in itself makes me dig the track. The song is on the lighter side of sound with more Deep Purple in there. Surely, the sheer virtuosity of Lord or Blackmore are missing but it's still a cool track. 'In And Out Of Faith' steals from Iommi-riffs without any bad conscious it seems. A nice Sabbathy wah-wah riff drives this song forward. The twin leads with the organ sets it apart from Sabbath, just enough to not complain about the obvious influences. 'The Devil's Cradle' increases the speed a bit, adds a little shuffle to it and is the most Hard Rock kind of song on the album. But not as much of a hit. With all the Doom and Hard Rock I was wondering if the band would really not try to hit more psychedelic rocking stages.

But with 'Culdremne', they try to explore that territory as well as with tribal drumming, wafting guitars and a relaxed, slightly trippy feel that continues in the opening minute and in the middle of the more than 11 minutes long album closer and band hymn 'Vinum Sabbatum'. This one is bringing the doom out again. Despite all of this, there are two tiny things I have to complain about. For one thing, I think the debut EP 'Songs From The Convent' had a a few more memorable moments than 'Bacchanale Premiere'. But do not take this as a reason to think the album is bad. There's a lot of cool stuff going on. The other thing I criticize is the production. The sound is somewhat muddy at times. Nevertheless, 'Bacchanale Premiere' is the right choice for everyone that likes his 70s Hard Rock straightforward and dark or his Doom as old school as it can get.

(Thorsten Frahling)