Cardinals Folly – Strange Conflicts of the Past

cardinalsfollyWhen a band builds its foundations on a well established genre of metal, in this case traditional doom, they put themselves in a position to be directly compared with both the founders and contemporaries of that particular style. What the listener knows of doom shapes their expectations of what to expect from new artists making their own black mark on metal. What do we find here? Mid-paced riffing that traces the outlines left by bands like Candlemass and Witchfinder General? Yeah. Dramatic vocals more than a little reminiscent of the late Reverend Bizarre? Check. Lyrics and aesthetic inspired by Weird Tales, excessive drinking, and dark, historic events? Uh-huh. Competent arrangements that bring all of these factors into a coherent whole? Sure. That extra “something” that transfigures it all into an evocative, special, and unique musical expression? There’s a Kraftwerk cover and… Well, that’s all I’ve got.

Cardinals Folly is a traditional doom metal band hailing from Helsinki, and Strange Conflicts of the Past gathers together all of the material they recorded before the release of their debut album in 2011. All things considered, there isn’t much I can do but give praise, however muted it is, to this compilation. As said above, it does almost everything you expect from a doom release, and it does it well enough. The riffs are consistently catchy if not particularly memorable (though there are a few standout moments), the vocals add an effective narrative sense to the songs, helped by the occasional variation into falsetto or comically tortured screams, the production is pleasingly heavy and warm, and even the longest songs never lose their way or fall into brain numbing repetition. The Kraftwerk cover also works surprisingly well; it feels neither forced or excessively cheese covered. In spite of all this, I simply can’t recommend this collection.

I don’t like to make direct comparisons between bands, but these EPs and scattered songs invite just such a comparison to Reverend Bizarre, and it’s a contrast that I feel brings insight into what exactly rubs me the wrong way about this otherwise enjoyable material. It’s an understatement to say that Reverend Bizarre never made any effort to hide that they were drinking directly from the well of the “old” doom metal tradition, but there was a lot that made them stand out in spite of that; the unmistakable vocals and image combined with the truly epic sense of songwriting created music that was, while intentionally derivative of many other bands, quite distinguished and identifiable as its own unique entity. I’m far from convinced that Cardinals Folly has reached that point yet, and though I have heard that their debut album is an improvement, this compilation will likely only hold value for the most obsessive doom patrons.


Shadow Kingdom Records

~ by jakemoran on April 17, 2013.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: