Rote Mare - Sorrows Path (Rotedoom Records)
By Michael Ballue
July 24, 2010
Five years on and at least that many one man demos under his belt, and Adelaide doomster Phil Howlett has got himself a band! Joining Phil’s vocals and guitar are Sean Wiskin on guitar, Ben Dodunski on drums and Andrew Gillingham on bass. I’ve been appreciative of Phil’s one man efforts, which despite the obvious hindrances that come with being a completely solo project, were certainly pure of spirit offerings on the altar of doom, so I was eager to hear this when I opened the package and saw what it was.
A twenty minute ep featuring an intro and two tracks is the format of the full band’s debut. The intro is appropriate to mood, but really seems more like something to get through to get to the music than something that would warrant listen on its own. “The Path” makes clear two things from its very beginnings: 1) This is still Rote Mare, the style, the riffs and Phil’s lamenting howl are all still there and 2) This is exactly what needed to happen to Rote Mare the thicker, heavier and fuller sound than was possible in the one man past. Good things…and pretty much exactly what I was hoping for. The now more than bare bones rhythm section increases the impact of the doom laden riffs. Rote Mare are definitely not progressive or technical doom; a large part of their charm has always been the stripped down roots basics of their doom from down under. Now the effectiveness of that approach is significantly heightened with increased depth, width and thickness oozing all over without altering the basic framework. The tempo stays in the slow to mid-paced range, the tone hopeless and melancholy (of the bleak sort, not the overly emotional sort). The riffs aren’t very complex but they range from good to viciously effective (check the riff that heads up the build at about the 7 minute mark…how does any doom head not love that?).
“The Song of Sorrow” is more of that good doom stuff, this time with a bit more of a pounding and aggressive edge to it. Thick as all get out broadsword doom riffing, pounding, percussive drumming and malevolently throbbing bass and a mournful vocal melody intertwine seamlessly on this one. The difference is very palpable, four men of one mind is a whole lot more powerful than one man trying to be four.
Nice one lads! Well done. Very solid and very traditional doom. I like that. Color me looking forward to the full length later this year.