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Thunderstorm - Faithless soul 3.5/5

Reviewed: 6-10-05


1. Templars of doom
2. Forbidden gates
3. Black light
4. In a gadda da vida
5. In my house of misery
6. Hidden face
7. Final curtain
8. Narrow is the road

It's always mystified me that the worldwide resurgence of metal in the last 6-8 years has largely overlooked the doom genre. Sure, the "stoner rock" variant had a successful, albeit brief run, and the cash machine known as Black Sabbath, Inc. continues to yield an endless stream of Benjamins even though they play only 25 shows a year at less than an hour each, without ever airing a single song written after the Carter presidency. But my point is that while power metal, death metal, gothic metal, etc. have all experienced explosions in popularity in the last few years, the pure, classic doom style has been woefully ignored. Perhaps it's because the genre leaders haven't been able to get it together. Candlemass can't even decide whether they're reunited or broken up, Solitude Aeturnus has been promising us a new CD for 5 long years, and Trouble have spent the last 2 and a half years writing and recording a CD that they gleefully announced this week as being 50% done. Sounds a bit like Chinese Democracy to me.

Fortunately, Thunderstorm are among a handful (Doomsword, While Heaven Wept, Doomshine, and Well of Souls being the others) of 2nd-generation bands hurtling into the void to keep pure doom from falling off the edge of the world. 'Faithless soul' is the Italian trio's 3rd CD. Like its predecessors, it features creepy, macabre cover art taken from a genuine medieval painting. Wish I'd paid more attention in art history class in college so that I could understand the symbolism of it, but the 16th century painting is amazing, and I have several times found myself lost in the imagery. As for the contents of the CD, Thunderstorm do not offer any surprises or throw us any curve balls, but instead deliver 51 minutes of uncompromising, epic true doom influenced heavily by the likes of Sabbath and Solitude Aeturnus.

Vocalist/guitarist/bandleader Fabio "Thunder" is not a gifted singer a la Robert Lowe or Messiah Marcolin, but he carries a tune with sufficient power and with a sufficiently plaintive timbre to be effective, even though some of his vocal lines would have fit Lowe's style perfectly (just imagine the heights to which Lowe could have taken "Black light", for example). The guitars are sludgy, evil and heavy as a bloated rhinoceros on a 3-day bender of eating scrap iron, perfectly capturing the lugubrious vibe necessary for this style of music. The band are at their best with the fantastic, 6+ minute opus "Forbidden gates", where they change up the tempos and work in a brilliant melodic hook, as well as on "Final curtain", a 6+ minute epic with a punishing main riff and one of the finest choruses to grace a doom song in the last 10 years. They also do a fine job on the straightahead, slow-paced, lumbering doom pounders such as "In my house of misery" and the aforementioned "Black light", which undoubtedly would have made John Perez proud. Less effective are the simplistic, 4 minute Sabbathy lead cut, "Templars of doom", which never really gets off the ground, or the uninspired, rote "In a gadda da vida" cover, which sounds a bit too cookie-cutter and just weak vocally.

After having spent some time with this CD, I am not convinced that 'Faithless soul' is quite on par with 'Witchhunter tales'. The Iron Butterfly tune bugs me, and there's a little bit too much groove here, if you catch my drift. Still, 'Faithless soul' is an excellent slab of doom, and will rightfully cause fans of classic doom metal to rejoice (in a doom-filled way of course).




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