1.) Gates to Darkness 06:27
2.) Forging Black Steel
3.) Chaos In The Black Realm
4.) Regions Of My Dying Soul
5.) Lord Cramridor
6.) Enlightenment Of The Forgotten Souls.
As my lifeless body drifts across the Oceans again I find myself in yet another country. As l take down the hood of my heavy robes and cast a cold skull socket at my surroundings some sights become familiar. Yes, I’m here in Catalonia Spain. Having been to Spain on more than one occasion in my past life, Barcelona, Benidorm, and Menorca, I find myself having lucid memories of sights, sounds smells and not to mention bands that my former self Would’ve taken in.
If you know of a band called Foscor you’d know they hail from a similar region. However, it is not them I have come to review. I am of course talking about Calderum and the entity behind the act Lord Mortuorum which translates as (of the dead) just in case your Spanish was as rusty as mine. So as I shuffle off my cassette player in hand I find the nearest tobacconist exchange my dusty euros for a bag of his finest cut shag. As I sit on a rocky hillside that overlooks the Ocean I roll myself a cigarette, press play on my beat-up walkman once again and inhale that sweet taste of smoke as the music penetrates my skull and fills it full of its wonderous sounds.
Now if you’ve been doing your research you’d know that the album that proceeds this is Mystical Fortress of Iberian Lands which received amazing acclaim through the Death Prayer Records label. However, this entity has also been a key member in acts such as Ered Guldur, Exhumation, Malfeasance, Sanctuarium, Trollcave and Verminous Tyrant. Two of which he has used the same entity’s name as Calderum. Whether these have been early conceptions of Calderum or just other bands he has crafted under the same name is only known to the entity. However, I digress, as I press play all becomes obvious.
As track 1″Gates to Darkness” rips open it’s clear to see that Lord Mortuorum has brought forward the same passion and ferocity from his previous release into this stunning opening of a track. The drumming leads the way into this piece followed by the throaty screams and backed by some light synth work, creating that almost haunting dungeon synth edge. This synth work gives the track a much more grandiose effect rather than an over-pompous one that some Dungeon synth tends to carry. Very riff-based and using what sounds like heavy Barr chords rather than your typical tremolo-picked sections this makes for a colossal sound especially backed by those punishing blast beats in the opening sections.
Whilst we delve into the second verse we’re almost treated to a very doom leaden riff, the use of overdrive on the guitar making those Barr chords and the breakdown so thick and choking. The drumming takes a step down to a funeral drum-style pace matching the guitar’s pace beautifully. Still not before we’re thrown right back into the third verse and the swirling speed riffs of the first verse. As the fourth verse climbs in pace backed by the keys again sounds almost like trumpets sounding as you approach the aforementioned Gates of Darkness. Honestly, this opening track has torn through my skull like a battle to reach the said gates. The vocals, the instruments the mixing all this in the opening track Lord Mortuorum have mercy on my soul.
Track 2 “Forging Black Steel” wastes no time in getting started much the same as its predecessor, another colossal drum intro with heavy crushing riffs and screams just literally makes you quake in sheer awe at the sound captured. As the Synths once again add those little light notes we are submerged into the world being created for us. As the sound on the cymbal rings out it almost sounds like the black Smith Forging our very own Black Steel. Having had his palm crossed with the finest silver he positions himself high up in a cave. Fires burning all around the pace of the riff almost match the rhythmic working pace to complete the job. Soon enough the synth work turns to the sound of trumpets heralding the arrival of the mighty sword. As the last screams are heard the Lord is ready to lead into battle.
Track 3 “Chaos In The Black” Realm starts with a very marching beat and guitar riff element to it. This almost captures the journey into the black realm to battle with the hordes. Midway through the marching beat of the track changes paces to that of pure frantic blast beat and superfast riffs. This I feel would match the sound to that of a battle between the light and dark armies. The sound of the cymbal bell in the frantic parts almost sounds like the clashing of swords within the ferociousness of battle. As the vocalist screams throughout, in a ferocious manner this just adds to the catastasism within the battle. As the crescendo of sound closes we return to the matching again. That is until we reach the closing of the track where all starts to slow and we’re treated to a heavy and grinding close. The weary men are slow as they realise they aren’t free of danger. In all of the carnage, the game has changed. Something has gone wrong the synth takes on a lighter chord structure before being slowly snuffed out with the high overdriven riffs.
Track 4 Regions Of Thy Dying Soul opens with some great rack tom drumming and the track adopts that very regal and medieval style to its sound. This is amplified by the sound of Gregorian monks chanting. As the opening fades the frustration of the army is felt as they scream for their dead Lord Cramridor. The riffs and drumming intensify as they feel their cries go unheard. The song takes a slow and dream-like sound to it as the Mourning for their lost comrade commences. However, this doesn’t last and we’re back to disharmony the anger rises for a short sharp burst, before returning to a stunning medieval outro much the same as the intro.
Track 5 Lord Cramridor opens with a beautiful semi-acoustic intro much like Metallica’s Battery this I feel may have been a big inspiration for the opening as it not only adopts the similar premises of the track from the slow yet stunningly classical guitar opening to a massive thrash fest. The only difference with Calderum is the synth work makes this track slightly more uplifting. As the second verse rings out the vibe goes from the thrash rush to that of a slightly slower pace. One that is befitting of the people burying and remembering their Lord Cramridor. However, as the track progresses there is still bitterness in the ranks as the sound turns up in aggression and those who want justice for the loss of their lord want to seek it. This track takes many twists and turns and the vocals help paint the anger among the ranks. A story is being told here and it’s one of both passion and honour with the music befitting every second.
Track 6 Enlightenment Of The Forgotten Souls is a soundscape piece and the sound of the heavy rain and water sounds like a ritual is about to take place, winds howl and the sound of slight evil growls fills the air. Is there more to what is going on here? As gregorian monks chant and thunder cracks the sky, are evil forces at work. Are they holding a ritual, as a voice utters the final words is he summoning the Lord’s spirit to return to his body? Are darker forces truly at work and has the Enlightenment truly started to raise the spirit of our since departed Lord Cramridor.
As I’ve been doing my research sat on the hillside, scribing on my parchment in the margins all the little details about Lord Mortuorum and Calderum and his now third full release its plain to see that this is a concept album and the previous incantations of bands featuring the entity have been pre existing ideas for this great concept he has carved since starting Calderum. Now either the newest album Lord Cramridor is the start of the Concept or this has been building since his first full length “The Krypts Of The Sorcerer” me I feel the later is the answer. As this latest release certainly leaves room for expansion on the story even more. I have to say as far as Dungeon synth and black metal go this is possibly the best out there. There was once a time when my musical palette wouldn’t have said yes to this, however the stuff I was being fed to me was either DragonForce or C.O.B and I felt that if their twinkly faff arsed keyboards were anything to go by you can keep it. However for the past few months I’ve been reviewing more and more Dungeon Synth B.M. and needless to say my musical palette has become quite accustomed to it. I feel I’ve grown in both opinion and self. But trust me when I say if you want good Dungeon Synth stick to the underground. So 2023 is definitely shaping out to be a great year so far and my end of year top ten is slowly filling up. Yes the year isn’t out yet, however if this isn’t in your end of year top ten this year believe you me you are doing yourself a disservice.
As I roll up my parchment and took it under my heavy robes and stare out into the great blue yonder I draw heavy on my cigarette with a humble and satisfied feeling that I have ticked off a welcomed band into the Lord of Shadows file.
Darkest Hails #Foras #LordOfTheShadows.
Lord Cramridor is out now