It is rare that a band can successfully meld several sub-genres without sounding awkward or insincere. Swedish doom metal quartet The Order of Israfel pull it off with ease on its sophomore effort Red Robes. The Romani influenced violins that open “Staff In The Sand” provide a haunting prelude for the melancholy riffs that follow. The downbeat, mountainous riffs plod like a giant in a winter storm. The title track has a touch of stoner metal with its psychedelic main riff. The ominous riffing is further accentuated by the chorused singing throughout the track. The chants and creepy bassline in the middle of the track would invoke the Devil himself. The grooving “In Thrall To The Sorceress” is one of the shorter tracks on the record. It is a straight up rocker that breaks up the bleak atmosphere of the previous songs. Yet, the highlight on Red Robes is “Swords To The Sky,” a progressive doomy venture equal parts Black Sabbath and Opeth. Tom Sutton’s wailing vocals paint a picture of a battle worn knight marching forward. The acoustic passage of “Fallen Children” is both and tragic and beautiful. The band focuses on war and the relationship between man and the supernatural.
Red Robes shows The Order of Israfel as its best. The band can play doom, folk and progressive metal without a hint of hesitation. This gives the music several layers of depth and it is never monotonous. The band’s influences are apparent but not cheaply imitated. Production wise, it is a mix of vintage Seventies with a modern update. The guitars and drums are at the forefront so one can feel those molten riffs melt your ear drums. The only minor problem is that Tom’s Sutton’s vocals are slightly drowned out, however, it is not terribly bad.
Red Robes is one of the best metal records released this year. It is only May and we have seven months to go, but this is a strong release. Fans of Paradise Lost, Candlemass or Electric Wizard should pick this record up. The Order of Israfel’s members have every right to point their swords to the sky with Red Robes.
For news and tour dates, check out the band’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheOrderOfIsrafel/