The best doom band in the world? Maybe

It’s a fact that debut albums might just be easy. You get all your life to have a go at it, then the second one, if you are lucky, might afford you just a year or two to get the job done.

Consider The Order Of Israfel. Their stunning first go “Wisdom” ended up as one of MVM’s albums of the year back in 2014, but for frontman Tom Sutton it’d been a labour of love stretching back a lot further than that.

The Aussie who loved European metal so much he moved to Scandinavia told us that he’d been working on those songs for longer than he cared to recall, now here not long after is album number two, and fear not doomy brothers and sisters: its another exercise in perfection.

“The Red Robes” is unmistakably TOOI, but its subtly different to its predecessor, not radically so, but enough to ensure that you won’t be listening to “Wisdom Part 2”

As if to emphasise the point, it ushers itself in with a folky instrumental part to “Staff In The Sand” which only serves to make the opening riff even more crushing when it comes. “The Red Robes” is the type of riff filled maelstrom that they’ve almost made their trademark, while “In Thrall To The Sorceress” barely hides its unsettling intentions – and if that track is markedly shorter than most here, then it most certainly doesn’t lack in the ability to compel.

Indeed, whilst there is never a point that “Red Robes” is less than thrilling, “Swords to The Sky” which is built on an eastern flavoured intro before becoming crushing as Sabbath and as widescreen as your average Game Of Thrones episode before adding vocal harmonies that bring to mind Alice In Chains in places, is perhaps the real highlight amongst many.

Not this is any kind of one trick pony of the apocalypse mind you. Yes, songs like “Von Sturmer” are monollith’s striding the netherworld looking for all kinds of evil, but “Fallen Children” is stripped back acoustics and seems ready to break into Chris Issac’s “Wicked Game” at a moment’s notice, with Sutton’s oddly unique vocal delivery really to the fore, while “A Shadow In The Hills” is another that is so gargantuan that it seems to have one eye on the chance to be the incidental music in some horror film – at least it does before the galloping riff kicks in.

And as if to prove the point that you can never second guess what The Order Of Israfel do, they merrily conclude things here with a 15 minute piece of brilliance, one which neatly distils every idea they’ve had thus far into one magnificent song.

The answer to the question of how you follow up a glorious debut seems ridiculously simple when you are TOOI. You just write a follow up that is its equal.

Rating 10/10

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