The Wounded Kings – In The Chapel Of The Black Hand

The Wounded Kings with the third album of their career, they express the maximum of their potential by producing a work that rightfully places them among the reference bands of doom metal. The British group, already the author of the excellent The Shadow Of Atlantis, draws new life from the line-up revolutionized, despite himself, by the talented multi-instrumentalist Steve Mills; the most relevant change concerns the alternation between a male voice, that of the co-founder of the band, George Birch, and a female one, by Sharie Neyland. A transformation certainly not easy to assimilate at first glance, since the particular timbre of the bewitching Sharie is as far from the stentorian and evocative vocals of her predecessor as one can get. In fact, the far from reassuring psalmody of what could be either a witch in the throes of a sabbatical rite or a novel Cassandra in the act of uttering her own nefarious predictions becomes the real added value to the sonic fabric created by Mills. The doom proposed by The Wounded Kings can certainly be defined as traditional, with ample references to those bands that enriched their music with esoteric elements in the 1970s; what makes this work unique is precisely the ability to fuse the atmospheres of the past with a sound that is evolved though monolithic and, above all, never derivative. The opening The Cult Of Souls is introduced by a Hammond that, in symbiosis with Neyland’s voice, accompanies us on its relentless journey to discover atavistic worlds populated by frightening entities, while in the finale the song is characterized by an irresistible as much as perturbing melody, with the lead guitar going to lap up Floydian sounds. The Gates Of Oblivion, where the previous track granted tenuous glimmers of light, instead spreads a further veil of darkness and makes the album’s atmosphere even more oppressive and corrosive. Return Of The Sorcerer is a brief (when compared to the other three tracks that have a duration of more than 10 minutes) instrumental episode that has the all but marginal function of worthily introducing the mammoth title track, a song that closes the disc by plunging us finally into the abysses of the human mind and its ancestral fears. A work, In The Chapel Of The Black Hand, that will not be able to leave indifferent those who appreciate typically Lovecraftian atmospheres transported into the musical sphere; the quotation of the “loner of Providence” is not accidental, try turning the cover upside down : carefully examining the writing on the forehead of the skull, one can distinctly read part of the famous invocation to Cthulhu (Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn).

“In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu lies dreaming”…

2011 – I Hate Records