Release Date: 07-12-2019
Label: Ván Records
Bands can sometimes change genres abruptly, jumping to something almost entirely new. The result is always a mixed bag, what is always certain is that the band’s fanbase will be divided with such a change. But, on the flip side, the said change isn’t always bad and bands sometimes move onto things that they were almost meant for, even while they were dabbling in other things, resulting in the record the band always had in them.
Let this set the tone of this review because Caronte’s latest release, Wolves of Thelema, is exactly such an album. See, Caronte have been on the scene since 2011 and have three full-length releases under their belt. Thing is, since their debut onwards, they were more or less a Sabbath-worshipping stoner doom band. Come 2019 and the fourth time’s the charm, it seems, because the album has almost nothing to do with stoner, little to do with doom and everything to do with sheer gothic awesome.
Wolves of Thelema is a doomy gothic metal album of the best kind. The music found within is grounded firmly in a melancholy hybrid of gothic metal, deathrock and post-punk; the sound is very much in like with the reverb-heavy, more in-your face stylings of the latter two. The guitar work is grounded firmly in heavy metal, embellished with gothic metal and at times, the sadder side of doom. The keyboards that used to be (still is) mandatory for bands like Lord of the Lost make an appearance in much the same capacity, with synth strings, bells and whistles. All this is tied together with a positively old school goth vocal performance of Dorian Bones crooning and grumbling his way through the tracklist.
Now, all the doom and deathrock may have given you the impression that Caronte take it slow and take a more funereal, brooding approach. This is not the case at all. The slowest the album gets is a leisurely mid-tempo. The album opens with the titular track, Wolves of Thelema, that slowly eases you in before the album kicks off in earnest with the faster 333 and doesn’t let up.
As you may be gathering, Caronte bring the goods and they bring the goods in style. By style, I also mean the impeccable, full expensive Victorian-style clothing-worthy, castles-and-red-wine-romances atmosphere. This feeling permeates throughout the album, almost as tangible as the tracklist itself, always finding a way to encompass the proceedings. Be it the sinister, hypnotic rhythm of Hypnopyre, the jubilant blasphemy of Queen of the Sabbath, or the more choir-backed pleas of Quantum Ecclesia, the palpable, moody ambiance looms over you like a giant raven haunting your dreams.
One other thing things that makes Wolves of Thelema an absolute joy to listen to is the hooks. My God, the hooks. I dare you to listen to Black Hole Dawn without those exact words getting stuck in your head or lip-syncing to 333. They are breakout moments, pure energy and get you hooked clean. Well played, Caronte. Very well played.
In short, Wolves of Thelema has made it to my best of 2019 list without breaking a sweat. It’s an album that comes every once in a while, blows your mind and leaves you wondering where they’ve been all this time. Now all they have to do is to relax, enjoy their triumph and then wrack their souls coming up with something that can top this. Watch this band. Get this album. Very highly recommended.
Dorian Bones – vocals
Tony Bones – guitars
Henry Bones – bass
Mike De Chirico – drums
01. Wolves of Thelema
04. Queen of the Sabbath
05. Amalantrah Sonata
06. Quantum Ecclesia
07. Black Hole Dawn
08. Stairway to the Cosmic Fire