The Year of the Comeback continues…
It’s been just over six years now since the release of Hellfire and Funeral Bells, the last full-length from Gunnar Hansen’s kvlt black/doom project Faustcoven. In fact, things had been so quiet on the Faustcoven front that many assumed we’d heard the last from the Norwegian band. Honestly, if that album had been their funeral bell, they would have gone out on quite the high note.
Well…to misappropriate a misquoted line from Mark Twain: the reports of Faustcoven’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
Hansen and longtime drummer Johnny Tombthrasher are back, and even though six years have passed, you’d never know it from listening to their long-awaited fourth full-length In the Shadow of Doom. Due out on CD on July 31 (with LP to follow on Aug. 31) from Nuclear War Now! Productions, the album is not only well worth the extended wait, it may also be the crown jewel of what’s essentially been an impeccable discography thus far.
At first blush, there’s nothing too drastically different about what Hansen is doing on In the Shadow of Doom compared to his previous output. The production may be slightly cleaner than it was on Hellfire and Funeral Bells, but the riffs sound no less eerie for it. More importantly, the vocals still have his trademark ‘mouth full of phlegm’ sound. If you were already a Faustcoven fan, you’re going to be thrilled with this right from the first few bars of opening track “The Wicked Dead,” which we’re beyond stoked to be premiering here today at the Vault.
That being said, if you give In the Shadow of Doom a closer listen–and I highly recommend doing so, preferably via headphones–you’ll notice a complexity in the riffs that wasn’t necessarily there before. There’s a serpentine quality to them that matches the winding nature of the song structures. The doom influences are much more pronounced as well, with numerous moments (particularly in the album’s second half) that feel both epic and foreboding – slow and sinister, like a kvlter version of Candlemass.
In short, In the Shadow of Doom is an unbelievably welcome return from a band that I didn’t realize exactly how much I missed. After the first listen it became a dark-horse candidate for my album of the year, and with every successive listen I fall a little more deeply under its foul spell. Hit play on “The Wicked Dead” below and fall under that spell with me, for as Mephistopheles told Faustus in Kit Marlowe’s famous play, “Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris” – It is a comfort to the wretched to have companions in misery. And when the misery sounds this fucking good, it shouldn’t be difficult at all to find companions…