Finnish doom trio Cardinals Folly have been extant since 2007 through a succession of lineups, but I’m ashamed to say that this new album, their sixth full-lengther, is my first brush with the band. Have I been missing out all these years?
That’s an interesting question, and I’m glad you’ve asked it. If I’m wearing my trad doom hat, then I’d have to say possibly not. But if I’m wearing my NWoBHM-influenced, punk metal hat, then yes, undoubtedly. Live By The Sword, the album in question, is a sometimes beguiling, sometimes frustrating mix of these two styles, never settling long enough in one area for you to make a definitive judgement one way or another.
Still, as I’often say, it’s better to accentuate the positive, and in the likes of Innsmouth Royalty and Last Bastions of Doom the band has come up with a couple of the nicest slices of buzzsaw bombast I’ve heard in quite some while. As a trio, they work best in this sort of no frills, sock-it-to-’em arena; Nordic Wraith is a great guitar player, with a tone that is sometimes savage enough to offset the sometimes pitchy vocals of bassist Count Karnstein. Pitching his playing somewhere between Fast Eddie Clarke and Ross The Boss, and his catchy riff work and solid, to-the-point soloing are a highlight throughout.
On the doomier side, Priesthood of Darkness has a primitive, no holds barred charm, especially if you yearn for the old days when bands like Witchfynde were considered to be genuinely demonic; These guys can’t be faulted in their sincerity or commitment to the cause and that in itself means that, any perceived weakness aside, Live By The Sword makes for an enjoyable way to spend forty minutes of your time. Have a listen and decide for yourself!
Live By The Sword Releases on October 27th.