Doom metal has been quite a saturated market in metal since Black Sabbath’s slow, tuned-down riffs carved the way for a more fine-tuned “doom” sound from the likes of Sleep and Electric Wizard. This eventually led to more subgenres being formulated; we have the ethereal, yet simultaneously crushing “doom meets Pink Floyd” finesse of Pallbearer, the dragging, melancholic behemoth of Bell Witch, and much more. One of the rising bands to come from the contemporary evolution of the genre is Caronte: an Italian outfit who describe their sound as “Heavy Acid Doom.” Their first three albums were part of a trilogy exploring the Shamanic side of life, with a particular focus on Alistair Crowley. Their fourth effort, Wolves of Thelema, is set to be released on December 6th, via Ván Records.
As Wolves of Thelema opens, we can hear a massive evolution in Caronte’s sound when compared to the concluding record of their Crowley trilogy, Yoni (2017). In place of a Shamanic focus, we hear the addition of a second guitar and synthesizers to create a more ethereal, cosmic sound. A mystifying synth looms behind ominous chanting as the track kicks into its full power kudos to guitarists Asher and Tony Bones.
Referring back to the Shamanic/ritualistic elements of Yoni, and other contributions to Caronte’s Crowley trilogy, “333” also brings a similar sound back to the listener. As one might think, such a record will be relatively sluggish or droning in pace, yet this track provides more of an upbeat tempo while maintaining the ominous chanting in the background, even bordering on occult-inspired rock opposed to doom. The dark chants in “Black Hole Dawn,” with Dorian Bones repeatedly shouting “Lucifer,” only support the notion that Wolves of Thelema is a “true occult trip.”
Here’s the Wolves Of Thelema album teaser:
Dorian’s vocals have also reached a new height, as he throws his voice into short bursts of growls and cleans in a rather unique way. Think Mike Patton (Faith No More) meets Jus Oborn (Electric Wizard). This is best demonstrated in the latter half of “Wolves of Thelema” and “Hypnopyre,” as his voice transitions between the aforementioned combination, and more throat-based chanting, which adds to the chilling atmosphere created by the synth additions from Selvans. “333” demonstrates a more Danzig-esque vocal style, which is a compliment on both Dorian’s versatility and Caronte’s overall dynamism.
Onto the topic of dynamism, the entire band has benefitted from this in their two-year creative period. While Yoni was in its own right a spectacular record, Caronte has matured massively in the two years since its creation. Instead of the more stoner-doom sound of their previous efforts, a more malevolent, occultist, and complex sound now permeates throughout the band, to mostly great effect. This is perhaps best heard in “Queen of the Sabbath” and “Black Hole Dawn,” both of which are instant crowd-pleasers with their energetic, multi-layered sound. “Hypnopyre” also succeeds in showing the listener Caronte’s evolution. Here, Selvans’ synth contributions shine and drive Caronte’s occult vibe to new heights. One can hear a definite nod of producer Jaime Gomez’s influence in this track’s chorus, as it offers a heavy Ghost atmosphere as it switches back and forth between classic doom and experimental synth.
Check out the video for Caronte’s “Hypnopyre” here:
In terms of negatives, there are very few. Some of the tracks do sound similar in places, and, in some aspects, it does lack a powerful punch in comparison to previous records. For example, the vocal range and instrumentals explored are very different from Yoni and have a more old school heavy metal vibe which occasionally clashes somewhat with its doom moments. This being said, the previous three albums were a trilogy and therefore had a conclusion. Perhaps Caronte aims to deliver the cosmic vibe of Wolves of Thelema in future releases and wish to explore the idea for more than a single album’s length. These are rather minor criticisms of a strong record for which it is honestly hard to find fault, and the band’s roots are still very much visible in their latest effort. What one can deduce from this is that Caronte is also doing something very different and unique, which is definitely commendable.
Overall, Wolves of Thelema sounds like a natural and necessary evolution of Caronte. It builds upon the foundation which cemented them as a strong doom act in the first place and, while they keep to their roots, also demonstrate they have undergone a massive change in sound since Yoni. It is diverse, inviting, and overall a rather interesting record with an array of sounds to enjoy. While they may have been a solid outfit to begin with, they are now absolutely one to watch.
Wolves of Thelema Track Listing:
01. Wolves of Thelema
04. Queen of the Sabbath
05. Amalantrah Sonata
06. Quantum Ecclesia
07. Black Hole Dawn
08. Starway to the Cosmic Fire
Run Time: 43:47 Release Date: December 7, 2019 Record Label: Ván Records