Do you ever get the feeling when listening to a record for the first time and it immediately blows your brains out left dripping from the ceiling? If not, I hope you’ll ever get that experience. If it sounds familiar, I don’t have to explain this is exactly what happened to me when I put on Hekate’s debut album Sermons to the black owl for the first time.
Hekate, hailing from Australia (Sydney and Canberra to be more precisely) is a relatively new band, but those familiar with Australian Doom metal bands must have heard the name of the Hekate’s lead singer, Marcus de Pasquale, before: he is also the lead singer of Witchskull. Knowing this, Hekate is absolutely not a copy of Witchskull. The band plays more ‘traditional’ doom and is clearly inspired by bands form the seventies; Black Sabbath included.
This is due to the fact that all members have been breastfed, according to their own words, with DNA of Black Sabbath, St Vitus and the likes of them. This made me curious on how this would’ve tasted and affected me.
Sermons to the Black Owl, released on the French Black Farm Records, starts off strong with Isobel’s Chambers. Think heavy riffs and pounding drums; not too fast, not too slow. The quartet plays with two guitarists: that is clearly noticeable in the sound of the record and off course the riffs.
As soon as Marcus opens his throat, my arm hair starts to rise. The beginning of the second song, Winter Void, could just as well be the beginning of a Black Sabbath song: a soft and calm beginning, after which a wonderful-sounding riff is slowly introduced: must be the effect of the breast milk. Halfway through the song gets calm like in the beginning for a while until guitarist Ashley turns his volume knobs back to eleven. Both in Winter Void and in the next track, Child of Black Magick, you can clearly hear those two guitarists are at work which makes the songs richer in volume and detail.
Burning Mask starts with a lovely riff that slowly makes you bang your head softly. Marcus’ vocals give me goosebumps again. Especially when he uses his voice louder in volume and higher in tone. Obscene Godess has a somewhat hypnotic effect: a repetition of riffs and the somewhat tense structure of the song. At the end it falls into a bit too much guitar fidgeting. Not too long though before the riffs are coming back to finish Obscene Godess. The seventh and final track (the Acoustic Outro not included) Cassowary Dreaming is my favorite. It’s an intense mini-trip of just over three minutes, pounding on your skull and once again showing that two guitarists really add something.
Sermons to the Black Owl surprised me and knocked me off my socks from start to finish. The mother’s milk that the band members drank as babies has certainly shaped the band: masterful seventies retro doom, or proto-metal, or … well, listen for yourself and let yourself be carried away in the tight thirty minutes that the record lasts.
As the physical record just hit the streets, I recently received an email from guitarist Ashley that the band has returned to the studio to record the second album. Until then, Sermons to the Black Owl will be on repeat mode with the volume at 11.