Age of Taurus - Desperate Souls of Tortured Times | Review

Rise Above Records is a name that rouses reverential bows in doom metal circles. Lee Dorrain’s (ex-Napalm Death/Cathedral) label, founded back in 1989 and financed by prying welfare out of the talons of Margaret Thatcher, has such a following that the label’s endorsement of a band is enough for people to happily hand over their own welfare payments to purchase the label’s latest releases. 2013 has been a noteworthy year so far for Rise Above with Cathedral, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Purson and Moss all receiving plenty of deserved coverage and praise. And now coming hot on the heels of those bands with its full length debut, ‘Desperate Souls of Tortured Times’, is London’s own Age of Taurus.
The band’s pertinently-titled and excellently packaged debut moves forward from its 2010 self released demo, 'In The Days of the Taurean Empire', to display discernably strengthened song-writing. Age of Taurus also continue to drink heavily from the sacrosanct well of doom’s forefathers—Sabbath, Candlemass, and Trouble, and the songs of ‘Desperate Soul...’ range from upbeat doom workouts that sound like a sincere version of the Sword (‘A Rush of Power’, ‘The Bull and the Bear’), to evocative pieces where the fantastical story-telling of vocalist/guitarist Toby W. Wright is pushed to the forefront (‘Walk With Me My Queen’, ‘Embrace the Stone’). These tracks are by far the most engaging: ‘Walk With Me My Queen’ turns the slower traits of doom into a medieval, Warning-esque ode to a loved one, and ‘Embrace the Stone’ is dynamically paced, contains blistering riffs and a brilliant guitar solo near its conclusion.
Sadly the rest of the songs, while well-structured, are nothing that we haven’t been exposed to before: conventional doom riffs and plaintive guitar harmonies, backed by drums that just bolster the riffs and do little more. The production courtesy of Jaime Gomez Arellano (Angel Witch, Ghost) suits the flow of the dramatic songs, but when the band try ramp up the aggression, as on ‘Always in the Eye’ and the title track, a grittier mix would have relieved Wright’s strong, clean vocals and the well-placed solos from trying to disguise the simplicity of it all. Age of Taurus’s take on the genre is one that, although not the heaviest or most interesting doom record you’re likely to encounter, does have plenty of redeeming qualities, but besides a handful of songs the band remains afraid to loosen its firm grip on the traditional tenets of the genre.

Dean Brown

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Dean Brown is a metal scribe based in Ireland. He is currently a contributing editor to the North American cultural magazine Popmatters and he regularly throws words for a number of other reputable loud noise publications such as metal,,,, amongst others. He has a strong affinity for music that shakes souls and leaves debilitating tinnitus in its wake and such obsession has left him financially and medically crippled, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. Follow Dean on twitter @reus85