Album: El Regne
Label: Nafra Records & No Men Records & Error! Music
Release Date: April 7, 2023
Location: Catalonia, Spain
I’ve noticed in the past six months or so a resurgence of epic doom styled after bands other than just Candlemass, bands such as early Ereb Altor, Doomsword and Solstice, a trend that I fully support as a huge fan of these acts. A prime example of this trend is the Catalonian two piece UDOL, whose new album El Regne should serve as inspiration for future bands to come. Roke and Adri break the standard mold of the genre though, drawing on elements of sludge, psychedelic rock and heavy metal.
The album’s first real track El Regne opens with sludge infused heaviness and some catchy as all hell guitar work. From the opening verse though the first thing that came to mind was Ereb Altor’s album The End, a masterpiece of epic doom and a sound that I haven’t seen nearly enough of in the doom world. From this moment I was hooked and had no choice but to listen to the full album and what a journey it was. This is expertly crafted music with real passion and raw emotion woven into its fabric.
I can’t decide if I’m more impressed by the band’s vocals or their guitar work, both of which are top tier. Vocally the duo delivers a powerfully belted, truly epic performance that has an equal measure of emotional undertones and raw commanding power. The layered effects and harmonised vocals of the duo give some added dramatic effect and power to the album’s overall sound. Vocally we get a range from melancholic slower tracks to powerful belted performances with a harsher edge.
The lyrics are all in Catalan (or is it is also known Valencian), a Latin-based language that I’ve always found to be beautiful and one that we don’t hear nearly enough of in music. I feel as if the sound of the language adds to the epicness of the music in some inexplicable way. It also ties in with the lyrical themes of the album that focus on local mythology. Lyrics that read like an expertly told story with a poetic flourish, for example here are the lyrics to El Regne (apologies to anyone that speaks Catalan if this translation is flawed):
In The Middle Of The Valley
Rests The Castle
Surrounded By Wind And Green Trees
Bark And Wood
They Surround The Meadow
Rock And Snow From The Watching Sky
Two Hands Meet
In The Light Of The Stars
Ignoring That To An Ancient Covenant They Should Be Faithful
Love Impregnates The Kingdom
The Purest Of All
Hot As Blood, Emerging As Flowers
Weight On The Environment
A Night Of Storms
The Son Is Conceived
Wet White Sheets Embrace Royal Naked Bodies
Protected In The Room
They Sleep Peacefully
Praying For The Big Day To Arrive
The other element that I mentioned worthy of praise is the album’s guitar work, finds a fantastic balance of heaviness, atmosphere and catchiness. There are headbangable moments throughout the album driven by killer guitar leads and rhythms. While the album is epic doom inspired, there are many moments that shy away from this and draw in elements of sludge, psych rock and heavy metal. These heavier sludge elements result in lower tuned, higher distortion guitar parts, some of which is goddamn crushing. The more psych-tinged elements really break things up nicely, bringing some groove and free flowing jam style energy into the mix. All of this is compounded by the energy of the drums that perfectly match and elevate whatever the guitar is doing. The two work in perfect tandem with each other and the closeness of the two musicians really shows.
Overall, this is one hell of an album and one that I can’t recommend highly enough. If this is the band’s first full-length outing, then I cannot wait to see how their career unfolds after this. If you’re a fan of epic doom, then do not miss this.
Listen to and order the album: