Where The Sun Comes Down - Welcome [Minotauro Records - 2017]With an album cover drawn in felt tip pen by what appears to be small children, Welcome is from the outset an odd album to pigeonhole. The project is the brainchild of two Italian proto metal/ occult rock pioneers, Thomas Hand chaste formerly of Death SS, Witchfield and Sancta Sanctorum, and Alex Scardavian of Paul Chain Violet Theatre, whilst Claud Galley of Death SS and Paul Chain turns up on a couple of tracks to add bass.
Opening track Mister Lie is a full on slab of Italian proto metal. The production is raw, which adds to the pummelling effect created by Chaste’s massive riffs. Scardavian’s incendiary solos take centre stage though, and are peppered throughout the song’s full length. A Snowin’ Day is up next, slow and heavy with deep vocals from Scardavian that work really well. This is much more representative of doom metal as opposed to the proto metal of Mister Lie. Scardavian’s lead guitar is again at the fore, with some furious guitar soloing towards the end of the track. Voyage starts with Claud Galley’s fantastic bass line, which is wholly reminiscent of the work of Al Cisneros with Sleep and Om. This provides an excellent foundation for the rest of the song to take flight, again the musicianship is excellent and one is left wishing for more involvement from Galley as his work is the inspiration for much of what is good about this.
Myself is the central point of the album and feels decidedly out of place and disjointed. Scardavian’s vocals are terrible, and even when a big fat organ sound kicks in with the main riff it feels like too little too late to save this track. Fortunately, it is short lived and we’re immediately off back down the rabbit hole with Welcome, this time we emerge in a world filled with the trappings of doom metal. Sabbath style riffs are the order of the day, slow, and heavy but with some unusual sampled vocals from former Death SS and Paul Chain vocalist Sanctis Ghoram who died in 2004. These give the track a unique and interesting, if slightly morbid selling point. Because We Where Fools is up next, and is surely a translator error and should be Because We Were Fools, but that is a minor issue that doesn’t affect the music. The track is decent enough doom metal, but the vocals are the let down again, neither Chaste nor Scardavian are vocalists and it’s obvious, especially in the case of Scardavian who’s vocals are the biggest negative on this otherwise interesting album. Both are accomplished musicians who excel in their own fields. It is just a shame they didn’t consider hiring a vocalist to enhance the album’s potential. Final track Where the Sun Comes Down is a revelation, woozy keyboards dominate the first half of the song, while Chaste’s vocals work really, at the midpoint we return to a more traditional proto-doom sound, before the track fades out in a succession of samples and vocal chants.
Welcome is a bizarre record that works particularly well when Claud Galley is present, sadly he only appears on two tracks. The rest is a mishmash with some great riffs and some fantastic playing from both Chaste and Scardavian, however the biggest let down for me are the vocals. Scardavian is clearly struggling throughout, whereas Chaste sounds better on some tracks than others. This would work much better with a clearly defined vocal style across the album, someone like Wino would sound so much better here. Myself feels misplaced and I would have dropped it from the album, the shorter length would not have been an issue as losing something so out of place that sits at the heart of the record would help matters greatly. Overall it’s not without merit, but the album feels a bit of a mess if I’m honest. There is some great stuff in there, but much of the good work is undone by weak vocals and some misplaced ideas.Darren Charles