There seems to be a small circle of bands gaining traction up in Chicago that all feature some of the same musicians. The emergence of Satan’s Hallow earlier this year was where I made the connection, but other groups like Tiger Fight and Moros Nyx seem to have been chugging for about as long. While Professor Emeritus consists entirely of musicians from this romanticized circle that I probably made up, their debut album offers up a different style than the heavy/power metal style of their other projects.
In a way similar to Michigan City’s Stone Magnum, Take Me to the Gallows is right on the line between power metal and Psalm 9 inspired epic doom. The bright yet crushing guitar tone is perfect for the style as it successfully navigates plodding chords on “He Will Be Undone” and melodic gallops of “Burning Grave.” The bass shines on some of the slower tracks and the drums are competently performed, though their place in the mix makes them sound less powerful than they should be.
Production aside, MP Papai’s vocals are easily the band’s most divisive point. While his melodic, vaguely operatic voice does adhere to epic doom convention, his higher range and unhinged screams place him closer to King Diamond territory. It’s easy to be caught off guard by his performance and there is a sense that he may be trying a little too hard. He isn’t too out of place on here and is often endearing, but his talents may still be best highlighted with Moros Nyx.
At the end of the day, the songwriting may be this album’s biggest shortcoming. There’s a lot of variety as songs like the title track and “Decius” jump between the doom and power metal tempos well, but the actual compositions don’t offer too many ear catching riffs or engaging vocal lines. There’s nothing bad on here, but aside from the Lovecraftian theme on “Rats in the Walls,” there’s not much that’s really memorable either.
Overall, Professor Emeritus is a solid power doom fusion that will be much stronger if it can get its songwriting chops to match its promising style. The over the top style and vocals may make the group an acquired taste though those elements do make it more interesting than some other doom bands out there. They’re definitely a band to keep an eye on, if only to hope for a more memorable execution of these ideas next time around.
“He Will be Undone”
“Rats in the Wall”
Take Me to the Gallows is now available via Hoove Child Records.