Spiritus Mortis– The Great Seal

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Spiritus Mortis has been around for a very, very long time. In fact, their first demos go back to the late eighties when they were still called Rigor Mortis. It took these Finnish doomsters a while to get their official first record out. Actually, the self-titled debut did not see the light of day until 2004. They are down to their fifth full-length now, baptized ‘The Great Seal’.

The Majila brothers still form the core of the band with Markus Kulla joining the band recently as the new drummer and vocalist Kimmo Perämäki stepping in as the new lead vocalist.

Coming more from traditional a heavy metal background, Kimmo has taken over from Sami Hynninen, also known as Albert Witchfinder from the legendary doom trio Reverend BizarreSami who had been with the band since their third outing ‘The God Within the God’, has a very distinctive voice with an articulated, theatrical delivery. Rather than being a carbon copy of that, Kimmo has his own singing style which to my ears falls somewhere in between Solitude AeternusRobert Lowe and Queensrÿche’s Geoff Tate. Especially, when his vocal chords reach for the higher regions, this really reminds me of those old Rÿche albums like ‘The Warning’.

Their previous record, ‘The Year is One’ dating back already to 2016, was heralded by many as one of the finest classic doom metal of that year. A tough act to follow eight years later, particularly with a new, relatively unknown vocalist onboard.

‘The Great Seal’ consists of 8 songs. Kicking off with the curiously monikered ‘Puputan’, it immediately showcases all of the strong points of the band in its new lineup. It’s starts out pretty fired up with an almost Dickinson-like delivery from Kimmo. Rolling in slowly, ‘Death’s Charioteer’ comes across as much more theatrical endeavor. There are a lot of references from classic hard rock albums to be found in there. ‘Martyrdom Operation’ could have been a Deep Purple song while the intro from ‘Skoptsy’ echoes Annihilator’s ‘Alison Hell’ before the harmonious interplay found within here gives the likes of Pallbearer a run for their money. ‘Kristoversy’ takes you on a ride to the Black Sabbath with its riffing bearing more than a passing resemblance to some classic Iommi riffing. Following up on that overt Sabbath flavour. ‘Visions of Immortality’ is also the one track that comes closest to the classic Spiritus Mortis we’ve seen on the last few albums. ‘Feast of the Lord’ indulges in some sorrowful melancholy leading into some of the best soloing of the whole album.

Closer ‘Are You a Witch’ is incidentally also the longest of this collection of songs. It starts off with a broodingly slow intro, overlaid with solemn declamations about a poor witch’s ill-met fate before it into some vintage doomed riffage. Personally, I would not have used that rather quaint, distorted voice on the spoken word outro, but the accompanying bluesy licks more than make up for that.

REVIEW SCORE

  • Music / Songwriting 9/10
  • Vocals / Lyrics 9/10
  • Mix / Production 9/10
  • Artwork & Packaging 9/10
  • Originality 8/10
8.8

It took them a while to get it out there, but their fifth album was well worth the wait with a new vocalist that helps them explore regions of heavy metal outside of the confines of traditional doom.

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