Sound: The first word that comes to mind when listening to this album for the first time is doom; uncompromising and crushing, thunderous and lead-heavy. Opening with a throbbing bass line, the epic Teutonic Witch crawls around it's twenty nine minutes of playing time, interspersed with occasional mid-paced upbeat section; this sound persists, with varying lengths, throughout the duration of the album. Last-ever full-length for the influential Finnish band, it is a very significant statement, and is an amazing career closer.
Reverend Bizarre are masters at what they do, and create the perfect doom atmosphere. The sound is gloomy and haunting, injected with a generous amount of sludge. Echoing the efforts of earlier acts (i.e. Sabbath, Pentagram, Cathedral etc), Reverend don't ever become clones of their influences, but over their 12-year-long career have crafted their own sound and tone.
The overall instrumentation is simple, but at the same time it's powerful and effective. The key to the sound lies mostly in pacing, tone and dynamics, something that is a strong point on III. The songwriting and music have progressed since their beginning, but still heavily rooted in the traditional doom atmosphere and aesthetic. Following the bleak tempo of Teutonic Witch, the second track Sorrow is another twenty five minute long track, swarming around the listener as it descends into the pits of solitude and despair. Funeral Summer then closes the first disc, a track that has been used from A Slice of Doom compilation with slight remastering. It keeps true to the moods set by the previous two songs, heavy and desolate.
Disc two kicks off with some more bass lines, before Albert's chant-like vocals seep into the song. Same bottom-heavy sound is here, with thick, fuzzy distortion, sludgy riffs and relentless drums. Following on, Kundalini Arisen is a much more up-tempo affair; songs like this one tend to be spread throughout Rev. Bizarre's discography, offering some lighter moments in the twisting gloom of other songs. Albert's bass is the driving force on this track, twisting it's way in and out of the chord changes.
Melody is sparse, but when it appears it works as a gorgeous ear candy, and thus is very memorable. Caesar Forever is probably the best example of this, with both lead guitar and organ/keyboard providing melodic breaks. It is easily my favourite track on the entire album; the riffing, leads, transitions between parts and Albert's vocals blend together into a cohesive whole like no other song on III. Finally, the album ends with Anywhere Out of This World, another 25-minute giant, and a song that could possibly sum up Rev. Bizarre's career. // 10
Lyrics: Lyrics are one of my favourite parts about Reverend Bizarre's music. While the themes of religion/anti-religion, mysticism and occult are common in doom, the way Albert approaches them is quite fresh. The writing is original, and very flowing; in fact I'd go as far as to say that they are very poetic, and are enjoyable to read on their own. They match up to the music well too, both in thematic context and in literary ability. Phrasing is elaborate, but doesn't ever make an attempt at Frasier, and the rhymes aren't obvious, yet aren't free-form crap that some artists are known to do. Albert's chant-like vocals are great too, as they suit perfectly what Reverend Bizarre does. They go well with the lyrics and the music equally, translating the mood and complementing the powerful instrumentation. // 10
Overall Impression: A monolith of an album. To be able to produce 2 hours of solid music and to close one of the most influential careers in doom in such a fashion is a hard feat, but Reverend Bizarre have managed it. The album progresses relentlessly from the first note played, never ceasing in intensity, and never becoming tedious, despite the song lengths. They should certainly be proud of this album. Altogether, it is one of the most consistent releases from just about every angle; the music is excellent, the lyrics are well thought-out and written, and the vocals are befitting of what's played. Cover art is a painting by an unknown artist, but in keeping with the Rev. Bizarre's aesthetic.
Those of the listeners who are already fans of the band will most definitely not be disappointed. In fact, the statement would extend to anyone who is interested at least a little in doom, or even in metal. To date, it is probably one of the best albums released this year. // 10