When I heard that this year el Camino will release their third full length after a four years absence I was very hyped because I really love this Swedish group and their cursed doom they’re playing. I liked a lot The Satanik Magick debut LP ( Hail the Horns is a real anthem), Smaland was a nice interlude EP with a very interesting Venom cover (this Swedish version of In League With Satan sounds even better than the original) and Gold of the Great Deceiver was very enjoyable.
So you can imagine my surprise when I read in the press release I received that el Camino plays some sort of malicious black metal with a Dissection-esque touch and “it’s most reminiscent of the Greek black metal scene”. I immediately asked myself what the fuck is happening here, have they changed their style and jumped onto the black metal bandwagon, or the guy who wrote the description smoked something toxic and was talking about another band and its new album?
Since I was devoured by excitement and curiosity, I anxiously pressed the “play” button and I was instantly relieved: el Camino did not change their style at all, instead they added that extra something (maturity and experience, let’s call it) that will turn Cursed Congregation into their best work so far.
For those of you who are not familiar with this Swedish horde, el Camino plays some sort of blackened heavy/stoner doom, but labeling it is not relevant at all. They play what they want to play and you can call it what you want to call it.
Set to be released on the 2nd of July, on the same old trusty Night Tripper Records, Cursed Congregation is one hell of an album just because it has all the ingredients to make you fall in love with it after the first listening: catchy riffs, raspy, barked vocals, excellent guitar work with a Black Sabbath touch (it features some incredibly good guitar solos all through the LP) and great drumming.
I like the vocals a lot, their blackened touch is angry, rebellious and in your face, while the instruments complete the whole picture with a fuzzy atmosphere. The album is quite long, with 11 songs which stretch for over 55 minutes, but trust me when I tell that you won’t even notice when the last track ends. Yes, it’s that good.
Do not expect too much variation here, but what you get it on this record is good quality heavy/doom metal that you can listen to with the volume to the max while you smash your head against the room’s walls. And if you manage to crack open a brew or too in between, the circle’s complete.
I already said the album’s catchy, right? Well, I will say it again. D‘s barking, combined with the stonerish drumming and the lazy, heavy riffing made el Camino great again.
The influence of their forefathers (Black Sabbath, who else?) is very much felt all along the 11 tracks (especially on Penance Upon the Pyre, Ordeal of Faith or the great Stars and Silence), but that’s a guarantee of quality, right?
If you play heavy/doom metal and you’re not influenced by Sabbath means there’s something wrong with you and I wouldn’t want to listen to your album. But luckily, it’s not the case here, as Cursed Congregation features tons of cool riffs, breaks and doom parts that we’ll make every doomster happy as fuck.
The title track is the best example of this smokey feeling, with the slow, giant like rhythm and the 2 guitar solos which seem to have been written in the early ’70s. While the first solo feels like it’s testing you an the ground you stand on, the second one hits you right in the face, like a mad boxer’s uppercut which sent you right to the land of dreams.
Another fantastic guitar part comes at the end of the already mentioned Penance Upon The Pyre track and seems to be taken from one of the early The Devil’s Blood releases, with its wailing and melancholic riff.
Apart these tracks I mentioned above, I want to also highlight the Häxkraft trilogy, played entirely in Swedish. I can only assume these tracks are about witches and their cursed craft, since other tracks, like Ordeal of Faith talk about the same topics (“Trial by poison, Trial by water, Trial by fire”).
To sum it up, Cursed Congregation is a great album and shows how much the el Camino guys have improved their skills since their first EP, Satanik Magick, released 7 years ago. I really hope this release will be their much deserved commercial breakthrough and more people will know and appreciate this great band and its music. They truly deserve it, that’s for sure.
“Into a flaming void, I will ascend!”
Cursed Congregation Track List:
1. Into the Dark
2. Intent of Man’s Heart
3. Cursed Congregation
4. Penance Upon the Pyre
5. Häxkraft I – Domens Hand
6. Crooked Wand
7. Häxkraft II – Elin
9. Stars and Silence
10. Ordeal of Faith
11. Häxkraft III – Vags Ande
el Camino Line Up:
Daniel Ridell – Vocals
Jimmy Sjökvist – Guitars
Timmy Persson – Bass
Gabbe Ljungkvist – Drums