Leeds based Camel of Doom is something unique in the world of Stoner Doom as it incorporates some of the most psychedelic/spacey passages I’ve heard from a band in the genre outside of ‘Ivixor B/ Phase Inducer’ by Electric Wizard. This is reflected in the band’s influences with 70s Prog/Psych (Bandleader Kris being a massive Hawkwind fan), Stoner, Death, Doom and Ambient all being ingredients of which the drug-like concoction that is Camel of Doom’s music is formed.
The band itself consists of founder Kris (Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, Programming), Simon (Bass) and Ben (Drums) who joined shortly after ‘Terrestrial’ was released. Being a Camel of Doom fan I picked ‘Terrestrial’ for my first review on The Stoner Sound. I’d already bought it, but had yet to listen it. So without further ado, here are my thoughts.
The first track, ‘Cycles (The Anger of Anguish)’ really manages to encompass the sound of the album as a whole, mixing heavy riffs, screamed vocals and ethereal passages. But the first thing to hit you in the face when you hit the play button is the tone, which is the audio equivalent of a charging rhino. The tone doesn’t cloud up the riffs (unlike some stoner bands who use so much fuzz that you can’t hear what they’re actually playing). The guitars on this track are audible and well defined. ‘Cycles (The Anger of Anguish)’ also showcases a change in the psychedelic aspect of the Camel of Doom sound, foregoing the characteristic saxophone of previous albums for a more, dare I say, generic doom choice of strings. This means the clean passages rely more heavily on effects and post production than they have in the past.
‘A Circle Has No End’ follows as a short guitar and synth interlude between two dense tracks, allowing you to catch your breath and prepare for the next dose of tone.
The dose of tone in question is ‘Pyroclastic Flow’, which aside from being one of the heaviest tracks on the album is also one of the slowest, dropping to a glacial, funeral doom tempo in the middle. The riffs that ensue are a blend of Sleep and Colosseum and the track essentially becomes a funeral stoner track, pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a song about being killed by an erupting volcano.
Track four of the album picks up the pace with ‘Singularity’ which is a romp through sludge and stoner with soaring sci-fi synths floating over it all. Its a more energetic and conventional (for them) track that showcases an angrier side of Camel of Doom. The vocals on this track in particular are stunning and a big step up from their previous works, this makes it one of my favourite tracks from the album.
‘Nine Eternities’ is another short interlude, which has more of a focus on the psych/space aspect being a minute and a half of lush, whirling sci-fi synths slowly building up to the next track.
‘Euphoric Slumber’ is another lunge into the funeral doom riffs of ‘Pyroclastic Flow’, but with more of an emphasis on the psychedelic aspect. The almost post rock breakdown in the middle is definitely a moment to treasure as the crushing riffs dissolve into sweeping synths and guitars before slowly building up to the behemothic riffs of the beginning. This track is very fluid with tempo, constantly speeding up or slowing down which really keeps the listener interested, right up to the strange delayed outro.
‘Sleeper Must Awaken’ is the first track on the album to have Kris sing as well as scream/growl and is a drastic change in mood from ‘Euphoric Slumber’ as the riffs are faster and there’s a more identifiable lead guitar line. Despite being the longest track on the album at just over 14 minutes, it doesn’t feel like it, possibly as a result of the more upbeat chords and faster pace. It’s certainly the most progressive track on the album which, as a progressive music fan, puts this in contention with ‘Singularity’ as my favourite track.
The final tune, ‘Extending Life, Expanding Consciousness’ is a melancholic synth and piano arrangement and is a stark contrast to the rest of the album. It’s almost a classical piece in composition, being somewhere on the scale between Draconian and Yes. It works well as an outro track after listening to an hour of slow, heavy riffs and despite being so different, it brings in some of the Camel of Doom touch as whirling psychedelic synths slowly fade in (and then out) towards the end.
Overall the most notable change from previous albums is the replacement of the psych sax with strings. This gives the album a more gothic feel to previous Camel of Doom albums though sacrificing some of psych aspects that made Camel of Doom unique. This could however be a step in a new direction for the band and has made me intrigued as to how they’ll evolve further on down the line. In conclusion then, this is another strong album from Camel of Doom and definitely worth a listen.
As usual, the album is available on Bandcamp and don’t forget to like and follow the band on their social media pages.
Words by Ollie Smith of Viridian Drift