No Sanctuary finds this promising doom act offering up a rock solid base
Massachusetts doom quintet Concilium have been kicking around the New England metal scene for a few years now, but unfortunately with only a competently composed but not particularly well-recorded 2015 demo on Bandcamp documenting their creativity; until this year. In June came the band's first proper studio recording in the form of this four-track EP, produced by longtime guitarist Greg Massi (who also plays bass on this recording, as the band was between bassists at the time).
Concilium's style is one of epic doom metal reminiscent of early Candlemass more than anything. (Note: scour YouTube for some footage of an early incarnation of Concilium performing a set of Candlemass songs at local metal haven Ralph's Diner.) And while the execution on their debut EP was sometimes a bit on the rough side, the band has now developed a skill set well-suited to this sort of sound: the smooth, somber, midrange vocals of Paris Thibault; the skilled yet unshowy and tasteful guitar work of Massi and co-guitarist Noah Stormbringer; and the simple, steady but not boring drumming of Joseph Goldwater. And as a result of what was apparently a fairly trying process for the band, Massi has managed to capture it all finely via a mix that suits the band well--crystal clear and fairly rich sounding, but without any bells and whistles.
Song-wise, the band offers two full-fledged new songs, an acoustic guitar-based instrumental, and a re-recording of a memorable song from their demo called "Red Sun, Red Moon" to cap it off. Not surprisingly, the real meat of the EP is largely found in the first two tracks, which show the band's talent for crafting epic doom compositions that, again, recall vintage Candlemass, with hints of other great purveyors of depressing doom such as Trouble or England's Warning (whose "Footprints" was covered on that demo from 2015). The band haven't quite come up with a composition that will be remembered as a stone cold doom classic yet, but the title track comes close with its massive riffs, impassioned vocals and soaring lead work, and the aforementioned "Red Sun, Red Moon" has a damn catchy riff that would have fit nicely in the vintage Candlemass catalog. "Halocline," meanwhile, is more of a slow builder, starting with a riff that is also fairly catchy but this time, relatively subdued, before the band begins to slowly and methodically turn things up.
No Sanctuary finds this promising doom act offering up a rock solid base on which to build whatever comes next. At this point, they have polished their music sufficiently for presentation to the global metal market and begun to develop a sound that, while clearly based on the works of previous doom greats, can be called their own. The EP won't revolutionize the doom genre, but fans of epic doom most likely won't regret dropping the $4 US the band is asking for it in digital form on their Bandcamp page as of this writing.
Note: the EP was also offered in a snazzy limited edition purple (yes, purple!) cassette form, but that run of 100 signed and numbered copies is already sold out.
Note 2: My so-so rating is mainly due to brevity. I would easily give a 4 to a full length release of this quality.
Recommended for fans of: Candlemass, epic doom in general