Like 2015’s Liquid Times before it, High Inquisitor Woe’s second album is fairly orthodox traditional doom in the Reverend Bizarre tradition. The songs are more plentiful and comparably shorter with a full lineup performing them this time around, but the emphasis remains on beefy guitar riffs that are supported by caveman drumbeats, lurching bass, and a watery atmosphere.
But while the instrumental textures are fairly static throughout The Taint, the vocals mix things up a bit more. The opening “Stallions of Doom” is an immediate wild card, playing up a gruff voice that reminds me of the Melvins, but the other songs opt for an eccentric voice that warbles between warped lows and a nasally mid-range. Their prominent spot in the mix makes them feel less like an afterthought, but they would’ve benefitted from a little extra conviction.
The songwriting doesn’t yield any new doom staples, but the tracks are dynamic enough to keep from feeling one-dimensional. Tempos adjust with a certain ease as speedy tracks like “Crown of Aquilonia” and “Witch of November” descend into doomed out breakdowns while others like “Ghost Trees” and the title track follow the reverse formula with some spooky, atmospheric breaks to round things out. “Beyond Visible Light” may be the album’s most balanced track, staying committed to a crawl from the gentle acoustic intro to the plodding chords and gradually manic bellows.
As much as I am a sucker for this sort of traditional doom style, I must admit that High Inquisitor Woe doesn’t bring much new to the table with The Taint. The instrumentation is vibrant, and the songwriting is serviceable, but the band is still searching for an ‘it’ factor that would help them stand out in the scene. There is enough good here to suggest potential for something even better in the future, but groups like Lord Vicar and Iron Void remain the best options.
“Beyond Visible Light”