John The Baptist, self-titled (2021)

From Jyväskylä, Finland, John The Baptist forge forth into the masses of heavy music listeners with their first full-length release.

The band has been around since 2015 and has released a demo, a split, and a single. This current self-titled effort is their biggest album so far, and it is loaded to the top edge with loud, heavy doom.

The musicians use stage names, and apart from Facebook do not have a large social media presence. That leaves us without an enormous amount of information to pass on. On their Facebook page, they say this: “Our music is slow and heavy like the rumblings of the earth. Our message is grand and grim.” OK, that does narrow it down some.

There are six massive tracks on the new album, and heavy they are indeed. The short one is nine minutes long, and the long one runs fifteen so there is a lot of listening to be had. The style is straight-forward doom, without any muddling. There is no pretension in the music and they seem to play what  they feel, offloading their interests in patient, thundering riffs. The first track, “Deluge,” is a perfect example. It opens with a solo guitar, laying down the fuzz in slow and deliberate sheets for a minute and a half before being joined with even more heaviness. The vocals are earnest and not distorted. There are tempo shifts and sonic variations; theme turns and compositional confluences and diversions are plentiful. Nevertheless, on every track, there is no mistaking the doom, culminating in the most comprehensive statement with the anchor piece, “John The Baptist.”

John The Baptist is available now on Bandcamp (link below). No word yet on whether there will be a CD or vinyl release, so don’t wait for that. Hear them now. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://jtbdoom.bandcamp.com/album/john-the-baptist

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/JtBhellmetal

Soundcloud, https://soundcloud.com/johnthebaptist-doom

John The Baptist, self-titled (2021)

Church of the Dead, Church of the Dead review (Stay Heavy Records 2020)

A few years ago, Church of the Dead was slinging EPs out left, right, and center. Now they are back with a new lead singer and a full-length album.

Operating out of Helsinki, Finland, Church of the Dead has enjoyed a respected place in the local heavy music scene. The band released five EPs between 2013 and 2015: Stay Out of My Grave (2013), Terror Tales (2013), Rave to the Grave (2013), Meet Me in the Tomb (2014), and Forever Dead (2015). Things were quiet for a while after that, until the 2019 single “Rat King” which had a reimagining of “Reanimating the Flesh of the Damned” on the B-side. With all this work and experience under their collective belt, it was clearly time for a full length album.

The musical style is a classic brand of Death Metal – think Celtic Frost with gruffer vocals and you are on the right path. Bolt Thrower is another style similarity. Church of the Dead has additional influences, stylistic nuances, and differences that set them well apart. The line-up now is the same as it has been all along except for the new singer: Jussi Salminen (vocals), Kride Lahti (guitar), Antti Poutanen (bass), and Tommi Makkonen-Viheriälehto (drums).

The music relies on riff and rhythm, and the lead guitar appearances are low key or play a harmony role. Stand-out tracks are “Coffincraft,” which made me nostalgic and wrapped me like a hoary cloak, “Nekrovulture,” because it creates a stout, roaring presence that absolutely rips, and “The Abyss” – the last one being the keystone that holds together the essence of the music in the set and acts like the banner a warring army waves on the battlefield as it advances.

Church of the Dead is out now. The quickest grab is Bandcamp. Most of the earlier EPs are available on Spotify and other streaming services if you want to give them a listen as well. The band’s entire canon is solid. Recommended.

Links.

https://www.facebook.com/ChurchOfTheDead/

https://churchofthedead.bandcamp.com/album/church-of-the-dead

Church of the Dead, Church of the Dead review (Stay Heavy Records 2020)