Bands from Birmingham and the surrounding areas have at their disposal the great promotional privilege of touting themselves as originating from the home of heavy metal.
There are two ways in which this tends to be irritating and inaccurate. Firstly, most bands are shit, Birmingham-born or not. Face facts, folks.
Secondly, the genre has evolved so much since he late 1960s and early 1970s that much of it is unrecognisable from the genesis.
So it’s fortunate that the West Midlands has Opium Lord to be both acolytes of Black Sabbath and really fucking good.
Their second album, Vore, is out this Friday. They’re off Candlelight Records, through the “bumpy ride” endured thereupon, and chucking out dirty, sludgy doom metal on their new label, Sludgelord.
It suits them.
Across its seven tracks Vore does elegance and brutality and never compromises on either.
The opening track oozes malevolence and it’s followed by ‘Lead Magnet’, which packs a groove the size of an oil tanker that it isn’t even the best riff in the song.
‘Centurion’ is a rager. The lead guitar and drums make for a sinister atmosphere but also lend the song a modern flourish; it might be the best example of Opium Lord’s heart in the past and mind in today.
The fourth song, ‘Suture’, might be even better. Its demonic slacker riff, isolated so effectively at one point as a solo bass part, is contagious. If that’s the sound of doom metal in Birmingham in 2019 you can count me in.
‘Sherwood Is Connector’ is cut from much the same cloth and is of the same high standard, but ‘Columbia’ takes a slightly different road in accommodating the appearance of YOB’s Mike Scheidt.
It’s slower, even darker, than the rest of the record, and Scheidt’s vocal is characteristically bleak and, frankly, weird. The riff in the middle is black, sludgy gold. It’s a horrible song. I love it.
The album ends with ‘Gift’, which is just as dark as what comes before it but seems to possess a patience that somehow adds to the methodical gloom.
Vore is a triumphant return for Opium Lord. The swagger is immense, the riffs thick and filthy and as catchy as hell.
This album won’t be heard by anything like the number of people it deserves to reach. Regardless, we at least know this: Birmingham has still got it.
Vore will be released on 11th October on Sludgelord Records.