Prog-fuelled doom is a little-visited sector of metal’s theatre of operations here at Sentinel Daily. Save for the ever reliable classic thunder of Norway’s HEX A.D., you’ll not see much of it ’round these parts… But that sorry state of affairs could well change if UK metallists Famyne keep churning out material of the quality they’ve come up with on their new album II: The Ground Below.
Put simply, this is a quite stunning album; Of course you’ll hear bits and bobs you’ve heard before – this is doom – and on Babylon the band fuse the best elements of Ozzy-era Sabbath and Messiah‘s stint in Candlemass in quite devastating fashion; but elsewhere the band weave together more disparate strands of esoteric metal thought, in the process delivering something that is at once as familiar as an old black tour tee whilst simultaneously offering new and exciting sounds and moods.
Key to this is the stunning vocal ability of Tom Vane, a singer of rare talent and burning stage presence who steals the show time and again over the course of the album’s eight tracks. He’s not overly demonstrative – you’ll not hear a single dog-with-distemper-wail here – preferring instead to use an emotive tone that adds oomph to his storytelling in a manner not heard for some while. A less over the top version of Hell‘s David Bower might be an apt descriptor of the man’s approach, and yet that tells only part of the story. Suffice to say his is a sound that fits the sturm und drang of the guitars Martin Emmons and Tom Ross, providing a taut dynamic and an air of grandiose class that snares the ear immediately.
At it’s most direct – the fast-paced headbanger The Ai springs to mind – this is an album that never fails to connect at the most visceral, immediate level; but there are many more elements to the Famyne sound, elements that require the listener to return to the well many times before they fully reveal themselves. That’s not such an onerous task, obviously, and I feel a lot of people are going to have a lot of enjoyment doing just that when this album emerges into the wild…
II: The Ground Below releases on May 13th.