Like a bit of Grand Magus in the ol’ musical diet every now and then? Well, there’s a fair chance you’ll enjoy the new self-titled effort from Finnish duo Desolate Realm who, if they haven’t got quite the same knack for massive, anthemic choruses as JB and the boys, certainly show enough on this album to suggest they are worth keeping an eye on in the next couple of years.

I’m not a big fan of the duo format in heavy metal, but after repeated listens to this record I’d have to say that Matias Nastolin (vocals, bass, guitars) and Olli Törrönen (drums) certainly make the format work to their advantage. They’ve created a huge sound between the pair of them, aided by a roomy, spacious production that gives the (admittedly quite simple) arrangements room to breath. Nastolin opts to adopt a crunchy mid range for the most part vocally, giving his judiciously-deployed screams more impact when he decides to use them, and his basswork is pleasantly forward in the mix on occasion; but this is doom, so really what you’re interested in here is the riff and Nastolin comes up with enough interest in this department to keep the listener engaged at all times.

The style of economic, trad-metal infused doom the duo have gone for does rely on big choruses for impact and, as noted, there aren’t quite enough of those present here to leave a lasting impression on the ears, but the likes of opening cut Spire and the excellent, stentorian Crypt are both very nice examples of traditional doom in it’s 2021 incarnation; Reckoning fuses an excellent, drama-fuelled intro to a motoring main section and a well-crafted closing section powered by some nice drumming from Törrönen to provide the album’s standout track, and the epic pretensions of closing track Tormented Souls confirm that there’s no lack of ambition on the part of the band. The signs here for further development are good.

Desolate Realm releases on April 23rd.