THE WOUNDED KINGS’ IN THE CHAPEL OF THE BLACK HAND COULD DRIVE YOU MAD
Sharie Nayland‘s voice is like ice water and mercury dripped down the small of your back in a darkened room. She’s like a post-apocalypse metal Grace Jones or Eartha Kitt, her vibrato just too-tremulous enough to give this music the exact amount of the creeps it needs. Avoid any acid while listening to The Wounded Kings’ superior Hammond-laced doom; you’ll just freak yourself out and think you’re Sean Connery in Zardoz , nearly naked and running from a giant floating head yelling “The Penis is evil!”
Everything is distorted or over-reverberated here. I like that; clarity doesn’t become a band trafficking in amorphously occulted psychedelia.
Take the “Gates of Oblivion.” It suggests the band has given Swallow the Sun more than a cursory listen with its weepy cadenced arpeggios.
But where Swallow are beautifully mopey, Nayland’s throaty, there’s-no-hope-so-I’ve-gone-insane alto sends an invite to a less romanticized crazy place somewhere between The Snake Pit and anything by Diamonda Galas.
For support band kingpin/guitarist/Hammond-player Steve Mills and guitarist Alex Kearney conjure max-reverb/max-gloom-distortion guitars and soaring single-line lysergic lines with DNA in 60s recreational drug-use combos: think Quicksilver Messenger Service and Big Brother and the Holding Company gone cabbalistwith Adrian Belew’s sustain pedal.
This is way better than the band’s previous release, the way good The Shadow Over Atlantis. Aside from the addition of Hammond organ, which adds a simultaneously evil church-y vibe and ”Whiter Shade of Pale” déjà vu, the rhythm team of Jim Willumsen (bass) and drummer Mike Heath (drums) thrum a cannabis-loose groove that also owns a sense of gravity minus the annoying self-amazement of a SUNN O))).
I wouldn’t want to be in The Wounded Kings playing this heavy shit with that frightening women singing the way she does so well every night. Seriously, a week, and I’d just lose it. I’d end up is a psych ER getting pumped up with Seroquel and Ativan, 1 mg, stat! Considering the band’s mission statement, I couldn’t offer higher praise.
(four out of give horns)