Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
It will drop on September 2nd and I am here to tell you now that ’tis a fine slab of traditional doom, indeed. When I say “traditional” I mean that of the pioneering forefathers who established the mighty Doom sound that we find ourselves kneeling at the altar of all these decades later. You know, iconic acts like Cirith Ungol, Witchfinder General, or Trouble.
The quartet of players providing the amazing old-school influenced music here are vocalist Gordy Jebus, guitarist Neil Fordyce, drummer Josh Cheyne, and bassist Jamie Hoggan. That music not only emanates those decades-old doom influences, but it even captures that retro sound in its recording quality here.
One could easily add that there is also a definitive NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) quality to some aspects of these songs. The trio of tunes presented, “Moontorn“, “The Ruiner,” and the title cut, “Watcher’s Guard“, are each powerful proto-metal in their own definitive way.
For instance, the first begins with a melodic, brief acoustic-tinged intro, before erupting into some thundering rhythmic pulses. Things gyrate right into a groove of guitar riffs as the clean, range-capable vocals soon join the fray. Tempos and timing stay on the path of increased pacing before slowing for the choruses, ones possessing some truly emotive vocals there, as well. Before long, the track reaches a fevered pitch before bursting into a swarm of fret-smoking guitar solos and dizzying musical spirals. Not sure if an early style of Proto-Thrash ever existed, but this is exactly what I’d imagine it to sound like, then or now.
On the metallic side is where things remain for the rollout of “The Ruiner“, but soon enough it powers down to a riffing chug. It doesn’t last, because the guys seem to light a fuse of incendiary time signatures and energy, from there they alternate repeating elements of both. At nearly eleven and a half minutes of running time, this second track takes its time to navigate a diverse realm of sonics. Plodding, juggernaut-like riffs resonate with an occasional string squeal, as the somber vocalizing narrates a tale seemingly centered on the destruction of souls.
It is at this point that the final selection and title track, “Watcher’s Guard“, arrives. Rippling from the start with ionic Iommian energies, it all soon yields to subdued, somewhat more simplistic vocals and bass accompanied verses. I’m reminded of Black Sabbath’s signature self-titled song at points within this track, whose title also shared that of the band’s. Intentional? I have no idea, but it matters not, because this track does kind of serve as an homage to the gods of doom.
Moments of Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, and others come channeling through at times, not in some half-ass, ripping-off way, no. Instead, it seems done from a point of intense respect, as a tribute to, or with reverence for, and I for one can understand its intent if that is the case.
Now, scroll down a notch or two and stream this magnanimously mighty début from Watcher’s Guard. The Bandcamp stream of this superb three-song sentinel of vintage-vibed emanations is a must for fans of Doom and NWOBHM.