I've been tinkering with this review for a while. I haven't quite figured this band out, the artist in question being Shepherd, a group of German doomsters who offer us their sophomore release, "The Coldest Day", on Exile On Mainstream Records. The band find themselves wrapped up in the doom genre, complete with influences ranging from The Obsessed to Black Sabbath, but sometimes the songs are too progressive in my opinion, leading me to think of Shepherd as more of a prog rock band than the electric basement warriors of the doom universe.
Shepherd hail from Berlin, which is somewhat odd in its own right. Most of your doom bands are from the US, Sweden, or England. Come to think of it, this might be my first doom endeavor from Germany. The album was recorded by Bruce Falkinburg, known for his work with The Hidden Hand, Clutch, and Stinking Lizaveta. Upon first glance of the tracklisting, it looks like Shepherd is painting a week long portrait. There are eight tracks total, with track one being "Monday", followed by tracks named after each day of the week until we get to the eight cut, which is called "Doomsday". The record focuses on the Bible's theory that the Earth was created in seven days, while at the same time exploring the theme of religion controlling our everyday lives. The songwriting is very interesting, and sparks plenty of thought from the listener, something metal rarely achieves these days.
Stoner and doom fans alike will enjoy the Shepherd flavor, but again I reiterate the fact that the songs themselves can become very progressive. Opening day "Monday" crouches and crawls much like Grief, with slow, thick riffs that build in complexity throughout the song. "Tuesday" brings more of the same, offering up a slightly thicker wall of sound. "Wednesday" offers up a nice dish of Trouble, but the song seems to pattern itself around musical experimentation. I feel that these types of songs are very confusing, and do little to move me, something that I desire from my stoner and doom acts. "Thursday" gives a slight nod to Cathedral, with plenty of Sabbath grindage to choose from. "Friday" really picks the pace up, an instrumental that slides in with a sleazy, southern fried sound that is reminiscent of groups like Down and Corrosion Of Conformity. "Saturday" is my favorite of the batch, really jiving to the likes of Cathedral or Count Raven. This is what Shepherd is really good at, just smoking it up and keeping the songs focused and simpler. "Sunday" mixes in some higher vocals and marches to a "Children Of The Grave" style groove. "Doomsday" is a bit confusing, and doesn't really get going until the whopping twenty-minute mark. By that time my week is over.
Vocalist Andreas Kohl is good here, kind of like a Lee Dorian style singer, really preaching from his own pulpit. He doesn't have what I would call a clean voice, but his vocals fit this style nicely. Tobias Engl plays madman behind the kit, really hitting hard on this album and keeping everything together with some nice patterns. The guitar riffs are slightly uninspiring on the first part of the record, and come to the plate swinging on the second half. The record could have been slightly better if the prog elements were gone, but the album does have its share of fine moments. Highly recommended for fans of Devil To Pay, Trouble, and The Obsessed.
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has contributed to MaximumMetal.com since it's conception in 2003. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia. You can also find him on his paperbackwarrior.com blog discussing all things action and adventure.
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