You wouldn’t normally think of India as the first place for some heavy, Lovecraftian inspired doom metal. After all, the country has a rich history and mythology ripe for the metal picking. Nevertheless, something dark and otherworldly must be peeking behind the veil of reality because Djinn and Miskatonic have crafted a bowel shaking, Great Old One stomping record in Even Gods Must Die, their second foray into the eldritch dark. Carrying the torch of bands like Electric Wizard married to the stoner groove of The Obsessed, the album hybrid works and shows that the cyclopean eye of doom can cast its baleful gaze from any corner of the globe.
Coming out of Bangalore, India with their 2013 debut Forever in the Realm the band already seemed full formed: their long swaths of doom punctuated with stabs of stoner rock and sludge. There’s a bit of a wink to the music as well – for something so heavy and wrapped in a mythology so many other bands take as gospel there’s a sense of fun to be had on tracks like “7 Year Witch” and the bizarre grungy wash of “Vulcan’s Forge.” The variety in vocal delivery keeps things fresh as well, ranging from raspy almost blackened caterwauling to some deep-intoned singing reminiscent of Reverend Bizarre. Bass frequencies are suitably queasy, and when the band opts for some faster moments, as on the tail end of closer “Weird Tales” it feels organic and not tacked on as an afterthought.
It’s been almost five years between Forever in the Realm and Even Gods Must Die, but nothing’s been lost in the intervening years. Kicking off with a low blues riff on bass doubled by a clean guitar, opener “I, Zombie” then crushes into the same riff magnified to the size of giants, earning its spawn of Sabbath badge. You can almost hear Ozzy whining over the narcoleptic lines, but instead we’re treated to vocals that sound like they’re coming out a deep dark well, smothered in reverb and the sleep of eons. And similar to how “Weird Tales” ended, we get a nice kick in the ass around the 12:20 mark of the tune, everyone putting their pipes down long enough to stomp and rock hard. Wino would be proud.
Elsewhere we get more of the same, and when it comes to doom, I don’t find that to be a negative. “Bones of My Brothers” feels slightly more somber in tone, but there are always quick moments of sly quirk that cause you to pause and rewind to see if what you heard wasn’t a mistake. “Doombringer” with its winding solos and choir vocals is an instant standout on the albums, bringing an icy psychedelic vibe to the album that again feel right at home among the other styles being throw in the stew. “Frost and Steel” injects more of the metal into the doom formula, and closer “Hangman’s Hope” brings it all back full circle, closing the door with a swirl of feedback.
In a year dedicated to seeking out more music off the well tread and beaten to dearth paths, it’s great to see the torch of doom metal being help proud and strong by Djinn and Miskatonic. Here’s to hoping it’s not another five years before we see a follow up to Even Gods Must Die.