Thursday, June 14, 2007
Teeth Of Lions Rule The Divine - Rampton
Teeth Of Lions Rule The Divine - Rampton
I read an interesting phrase in a noir fiction novel once that has always stuck with me when I think of sleazy politicians and especially multi-millionaire CEO figureheads. It basically amounted to the observation that high-profile individuals tended to stick their chins out with gigantic smiles on their faces, practically begging you to unload a punch. They typically do this with impunity, for they are well aware that YOU know that, should you decide to do so, that the repercussions would range anywhere from catastrophic to ultimately fatal. Their grins are even larger when they consider the fact that if you do not act on your instincts, then the white-knuckled grip at your side would be your reward: testament to your spineless nature.
Of course, "Teeth Of Lions Rule The Divine" will not bring about the same reaction should you choose to disagree with it (hopefully), yet it is similar in that it proudly revels in it's particular form, inviting critical opinions for those who only take a cursory glance at it. To some extent, the detractors have a point. After all, who wouldn't be at least slightly daunted at the prospect of a thirty minute guitar dirge detailing a violent drug overdose?
Named after a track on Earth's "Earth 2" album, "Teeth Of Lions Rule The Divine" was a one-off "doom super group" featuring standard faces Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson, along with former Napalm Death vocalist Lee Dorian (who is more commonly known as the vocalist for Cathedral), and drummer Justin Greaves. Their debut album "Rampton" was released in 2002, and then the band disappeared into the darkness from which it came. The three songs, while wildly divergent in duration, all present roughly the same product sonically: lumbering and monotonous guitar dirges, bringing to mind images of swamps and drug dens , accompanied by Lee Dorian's heavily distorted and multi-tracked vocals. The mix, while purposefully muddy, dense, and claustrophobic, thankfully is clear enough to allow listeners to detect subtle nuances while being dirty enough to greatly enhance the mood being set. As for the drums, while they mainly serve as rhythmic time-keeping only, there are a few interesting solo-esque sections that manages to keep things interesting (saving the first and longest track from utter stagnation and boredom).
This album reeks of paranoid delusions and deviant intentions, in large part due to Lee Dorian's disturbing (but also highly original) lyrics. Sung (mostly) in a strange monotone, his voice also features simultaneous growling of the words or random stuttering on occasion. "He Who Accepts All That Is Offered (Feel Bad Hit Of The Winter" is exactly that (besides being a jab at a similar titled Queens Of The Stone Age song), an epic tale of overdosing with over a dozen different substances, and the paranoia/self-loathing that occurs before and/or after the act. Meanwhile, "New Pants And Shirt" is a strange Southern nightmare for the average working man after a hard day's work and "The Smiler" is an abstract (yet vivid) condemnation of religion. However, unlike many other bands of a similar nature, Dorian's vocals, while grim and distorted, are still relatively comprehensible, which is fortunate given the superb song-writing which accompanies lyrics such as the following example (from "The Smiler"):
Barren emotion cuts like a blunt knife
Against the hatred of your blackened heart
Brewing through states in search of joy
They spit out rejection, you worship the same
Annihilation of your inner-self
Breeds gratification in your hunger for wealth
All that was beauty you've smashed wide apart
With the fist of envy, for nothing that's smart
In short, if you are familiar with Stephen O'Malley's earlier work, this album is not a radical departure from his basic musical formula he has stuck to over the years. However, with regards to doom metal in general it is extremely atypical, and though it is patently too psychotic and divergent for the average listener, doom fans with a sense of patience will be rewarded by this experience. As is usual for this type of recording, it is usually best to listen to the whole recording straight through (unless, like the anti-hero in the first track, you are too spineless to do so).
EDIT: I have officially reached burn-out status w/ anything Stephen O'Malley related. Too much discussion everywhere. Blah. Never fear though, I am officially off of my break, so hopefully will resume with a semi-normal update schedule.
Southern Lord Info Page
PS They used to have an interview and complete lyrics on the S.L. site, but it appears they removed them when they re-arranged the site. Phooey. While the lyrics can be found on many different websites, I am not sure if they interview was printed elsewhere, which is unfortunate, given the fact that it gave valuable insights into the creation of the album, various inspiration, etc.