The House of Capricorn [New Zealand]
In the Devil’s Days
Swamps of One Tree Hill
There’s something about bands coming from the Oceania region, with outstanding extreme metal bands that come out from places like Australia and New Zealand. Equally dark as their black and death metal counterparts like Witchrist and Diocletian are stoner/doom metallers The House of Capricorn, with their sophomore full length effort, In the Devil’s Days. Occult rock/metal has been a rather intriguing genre of late, and the simple, yet ominous album artwork further shrouding the band in an aura of mystery.
Unlike black and death metal bands that tend to utilise harsh methods to get their blasphemous messages across to their listeners, one thing that my encounters with occult rock bands have been the catchiness in the tunes that the bands craft, and this is evident right from the start with All Hail to the Netherworld. The riffs of Scott are heavily stoner/doom metal influenced, and the emotions in the music are topped off by the strained clean vocals of Marko who infuse the music with that sense of desperation. Ex-Vassafor and Ulcerate drummer Michael also proves his capabilities on the album, and while the music is of the opposite end of the spectrum compared to what he has played, he is able to switch his playing styles on In the Devil’s Days, and his work on the album are a mark of his versatility.
While the album starts off in a rather light-hearted way with All Hail to the Netherworld, that is just a prelude to the darkness that the listener will encounter as the album progresses, as the band alternates between faster and catchy moments and slower and downright foreboding moments. In the Devil’s Days is littered with long tracks that last up to 15 minutes, and songs like Les Innocents see the band taking an agonisingly slow pace that almost reminds listeners of pioneering doom bands such as Black Sabbath, instilling a sense of hopelessness and darkness into the listener. And it is also such tracks that make the listening experience of the album such an ironic pleasure, with the band slowly torturing the listener, removing any sense of hope and light bit by bit until there is nothing left but bleak darkness. Not all the long and slow pieces are those of doom though, as tracks like Veils feel more retrospective and reflective instead.
On the flip side, songs like Coffins and Cloven Hooves are more straightforward hard rock-ish numbers with groovy guitar riffs and bass lines, helping to restore some sense of sanity in the listener after the gruelling Les Innocents, while all the time retaining the aggressive edge in the music, expressed through the gruff vocals of Marko. But not all is simply calm and happy though, as guitarist Scott experiments with his lead lines throughout the album, what with the weird guitar solo on the track giving the song some sense of chaos.
The ability to put the listener through a roller-coaster ride of emotions as the album progresses displays the superior abilities of the band not only as musicians but also as songwriters, and the variety of different moods and expressions of The House of Capricorn on In the Devil’s Days have certainly make the album an interesting, albeit somewhat depressing one to listen to.