Phoenix Rising Review - Jan 2013

Phoenix Rising Review - Jan 2013

Review by Becky

Though Old Corpse Road have been around for a while and have produced one EP by themselves ('The Echoes of Tales Once Told') and a split with Meads of Asphodel ('The Bones of This Land Are Not Speechless') this is their first (and very eagerly awaited) full length album. Much like the travelling minstrels of old, they use the medium of music and song to retell British myths and folktales which provide the inspiration for every single one of their tracks. The notion of them as minstrels is further enhanced by the fact that none of the band members actually use their real names, but are instead known only as The Bearer, The Revenant, The Wanderer, The Dreamer and The Watcher.

The band have a great deal of 'Dusk and Her Embrace'/'Cruelty and the Beast' era Cradle of Filth about them, a black metal influenced style utilising a lot of symphonic keyboard work in addition to heavier elements, but they have taken this sound and truly made it their own. Rather than gothic horror the mood is decidedly folky and celtic, while still retaining a very dark quality as most of the stories concern ghosts, witches, wraiths and similar.

One of the most innovative aspects of this band is the fact that they have no less than four members on vocal duties - for the most part this takes the form of one person to do spoken word and the other three handling screaming/growling. Though at first glance this may seem excessive, there in fact are a couple of benefits to this. The first is that far too often in a band the focus is on the vocalist with other members not getting the recognition they deserve. By splitting the vocals between several people Old Corpse Road also split the attention of their audience, and they are able to convey the message that this is a group effort through and through, with each member being of equal standing and importance.

Second, and more importantly from a musical perspective, having several people to do vocals allows for some absolutely spectacular harmonising. At times this takes the form of sung choral parts and chanting but what is really impressive is the counterpoint between the different vocal styles. These are evident to a greater or lesser extent in most tracks but on one song in particular I was absolutely floored by them - towards the end of 'The Crier of Claiffe: II' there is a section with a scream, a growl and a spoken part, working together in perfect harmony and the effect is nothing short of epic. Of course, it helps that each of them have exceptionally strong voices and perform their roles faultlessly!

Another great thing about this band are the touches of humour here and there which show that they obviously don't take themselves too seriously - for example the borderline cheesy intro to 'Glassensikes at Witching Hour' or the slight emphasis on the word "cock" at one point in 'The Cauld Lad of Hylton' - but these humourous bits once never come at the expense of the music which remains at the same excellent standard throughout.

In more ways than one, this album really is the stuff legends are made of.

10 / 10 Flames