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Album Review: Phantom Druid – Death & Destiny

The style of Phantom Druid’s first full-length is obviously rooted in the tropes of such groups as Saint Vitus and Pentagram, but it actually reminds me of the Hounds of Hasselvander’s early efforts the most. Not only is it also a one-man project, helmed by Stone in Egypt’s Tjeerd de Jong, but it thrives on a similarly cavernous atmosphere shaped by staggering instrumentation and gritty lo-fi production. Either way, Death & Destiny never wavers in its proud commitment to classic doom orthodoxy.

Considering the one-man format, the album’s musicianship ends up being surprisingly tight. The guitar tone suits the material perfectly with its overbearing weight, while the riffs do an excellent job of casting a dark mood with bluntly catchy patterns. The drums provide sufficient support with simple four-to-the-floor beats but also have a certain liveliness to them. The vocal lines might’ve benefitted from a similar power level, but the Liebling meets Osbourne sneer certainly suits the material.

While the songwriting’s emphasis on sheer riff exertion runs the risks of producing more great moments than outright songs, there are strong individual tracks on here. “Seven Stars Divine” recalls The Obsessed with its hefty freight train rhythm while “Darkness Descends” and “Slow Savage” provide the album’s creepier riff lurches before tapering off into calmer soundscapes. The fleshed-out dynamics like these and the cleaner guitar that starts off “Soul Coffin” help keep the album from getting too one-dimensional.

Overall, Phantom Druid executes a basic but effective doom formula on Death & Destiny. The template is certainly nothing new and can feel a little too straightforward at times, but the catchy as hell riffs really enhance the already on-point atmosphere and musicianship. I can imagine this material crushing in a live environment, and a part of me would be curious to see how recruiting other musicians could influence the project’s direction, but Phantom Druid is just as accomplished with its current setup. Classic doom fans will get a lot out of this.

Highlights:
“Seven Stars Divine”
“Soul Coffin”
“Darkness Descends”
“Slow Savage”

Editor Grade

B+

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