Album Review: OPIUM WARLORDS – Taste My Sword Of Understanding

OPIUM WARLORDS – Taste My Sword Of Understanding

Svart Records – Out Now.

Last time I decided to write a review for one of Sami Albert Hynnien’s musical projects, I was not impressed by the offering in question.I like to consider myself as a fairly open-minded person but one had to be either very brave, or mad, to put up with the layers of mono-dimensional feedback effects featured in March 15’s “Our Love Becomes A Funeral Pyre”.

In the hope that Opium Warlord will be a different musical proposition altogether, I approached them with an open mind.

The first few seconds of me listening to “Taste My Sword Of Understanding” were moments of sheer agony as the distorted guitar tone which introduces the album suggested a certain connection with March 15’s previously-mentioned release.

I felt more than relieved, then, when I finally came across the first of the many Doom-laden riffs that this album has to offer and realised that, rather than indulging in otherworldly screams, the ex Reverend Bizarre front man has decided to focus once again on his trademark clean/bombastic deliveries.

So, how close does “Taste My Sword Of Understanding” come to sounding like a Reverend Bizarre release and how good of an album is it?  Though this nine track release has a few things in common with the band that made Sami a household name in the Doom Metal scene, the music is both diverse and enjoyable to listen to.

Opening with the simple-themed instrumental “The Sadness Of Vultures” the band visits familiar territories in the twelve minute Doom beast “The Self-Made Man” – a song that Reverend Bizarre’s fans will surely enjoy.

It is, however, in the follow up “The God in Ruins” that one gets properly hooked on this album! Led by an unnerving bass tone and with Hynnien providing a dark narrative, here we have nine and a half minutes of delightful torture the likes of which will not be repeated again in this release.

Instead, simple bass-led instrumentals like “The Land Beyond The Pole” connect to and support lengthy, riff-based lethargic Doom compositions such as “The Solar Burial” & “Mount Meru”.

With “This Place Has Been Passed” being a thematically confused affair, and “Manisolas From Misandria” a pretty minimalistic short instrumental, the closing part of the album is in danger of coming across as its own poor relative, but this is remedied by “In Melancholy Moonless Acheron” – another bass-led composition filled with dramatic vocals deliveries, courtesy of the band’s talented front man.

Even though “Taste My Sword of Understanding” is not quite the groove-laden monster that fans of Reverend Bizarre are in desperate need of, it is still a collection of decent riff-based compositions whose variety and feel ought to be agreeable to fans of slow-paced Doom Metal. Most importantly, it is the only one of Hynnien’s side projects that I have listened to of late which I can claim to have enjoyed, to various degrees, from start to finish. A fairly decent effort.

John Stefanis

Rating: ***1/2 (3.5/5.0)

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