(By Sanitago Gutierrez, Guest Contributor, RiffRelevant.com)
A bit of back story before we begin. Back in the mid ‘90s, a doom metal band going by the name of Marauder was born in Dallas, Texas. Unfortunately, vocalist Glenn Elliott passed away in 2004, and thus also signaled the end of Marauder, as well.
However, in 2006, the remaining band members decided to reform the band under the moniker of Elliott’s Keep. The band’s name and imagery is a direct reference to Glenn and his Scottish heritage. The band consists of brothers Jonathan Bates (guitars) and Joel Bates (drums), and Ken Greene (bass), who also took over vocal duties after Glenn’s passing.
Prior to ‘Lacrimae Mundi’ being released on October 6th, the band had completed three albums. They deserve mention, as all are available via the Elliott’s Keep Bandcamp page and all are well worth checking out. ‘In Medias Res’ (2008) and ‘Sine Qua Non’ (2010) were both released on the now defunct BrainTicket Records and thus are now available through other outlets.
Their third album, ‘Nascentes Morimur’ (2013) was a self-released record. This brings us to their current release, ‘Lacrimae Mundi’. The band once again utilized the services of producer / engineer JT Longoria and Nomad Studios in Dallas. Nomad Studios has previously been utilized by Solitude Aeturnus, Absu, and Pantera. Longoria has worked on efforts by Solitude Aeturnus, King Diamond, and Robert Lowe’s vocals on Candlemass.
‘Lacrimae Mundi’ covers a wide range of themes. Opening track “Carpe Noctem” reflects grief and loss. One listen to the crisp and heavy opening riff, and you know you are in for some traditional doom in the vein of Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus. However, Elliott’s Keep mix in touches of traditional metal as well. Ken’s varied vocal delivery throughout the record keep things in both realms.
“Tempest” follows with a drum intro reminiscent of Confessor. The song references the epic poem Aeneid by Virgil, believed to be written sometime between 29 and 19 BC, recounting death at the hands of a stormy sea. Ken’s bass work shines through on the portent that is “The Doom of Men” while “Banished in Shadows” is told from the point of view of a heretic during the Spanish Inquisition and features a prominent guitar solo.
“Ninestane Rig” is full of Scottish references and is the highlight of the ‘Lacrimae Mundi’. This is the most obvious tribute and honor to Glenn on the record. Jonathan states that it is “based upon the legends associated with the Elliott clan’s castle hermitage and the evil Lord Soulis.” With geographical Scottish references to Liddesdale, Tarras Moss, Ettleton, and Milnholm Cross, along with references to Armstrong, Laird of Mangerton and Thomas of Ercildoune, this is an obvious work that comes straight from the heart and a fitting honor and tribute.
Imagine, if you will, a party with various gods from a myriad of mythologies and you get an idea of what “Moments of Respite” is going for. The lyrics here paint such a clear picture of what it may be like, with references to Balor, Mars, Thor, Baldur, Morpheus, Dionysus, Anubis, and Aphrodite. You’ll be singing the chorus to this one long after it’s done. After a short instrumental with “Reflection”, the record bookends with “Remembrance”, once again echoing the theme of loss.
Bands of this caliber, who understand what traditional doom and metal mean, are few and far between these days. There is zero filler on this album. The combined experience of Glen, Joel, and Jonathan shines through in every aspect of ‘Lacrimae Mundi’. Proficient musicianship, check! Intelligent lyrics, check! Production, check! In a year with so many great releases, ‘Lacrimae Mundi’ has certainly found its place among the best of the year.
Lacrimae Mundi Track List:
1. Carpe Noctem
3. The Doom of Men
4. Banished to Shadow
5. Ninestane Rig
6. Moments of Respite