Album Review: Druid Lord – “Grotesque Offerings”

Druid Lord - Grotesque Offerings

Dear death/doom,

I get it.  You’re supposed to have fast and slow moments.  It’s right there in the name.  So please understand I have nothing personal against the touchpoints that signify you as a sub genre of that great and glorious noise we call metal.  It’s just that…well, I need both those facets to be interesting within the context of the song.  And in the case of  Grotesque Offerings, the long awaited full length followup by Druid Lord, while I really dig the “death” (aka the fast and angry bits), the “doom” (aka the tedious boring bits) leave more than a little to be desired.  

And it’s a shame, because there’s some stuff I really like on the record.  Let’s spend a few moments talking about Tony Blakk – guy’s got some great growls on here.  I love that gnarled yet perfectly annunciated voice, and the way he purposefully slips around the rhythm keeps you on your toes as a listener.  Lyrically it’s a dripping, gore-filled blast of horror, which makes sense when you see tracks like “House of Dripping Gore” (see what I did there?) and “Evil That Haunts This Ground.”  Sonically I like where things sit, too.  The guitars have that early grit to them that immediately recalls classic Obituary as well as some the greats overseas like Carnage or Dismember.  Everything is tuned down to “bowel shaking” and yet it’s clear and dynamic.  So if everything on the surface is so hunky dory, what’s the issue?

The issue, sadly, is that I can’t shake the feeling of Grotesque Offerings coming off more like a bunch of riffs in need of a strong structure.  Particularly the doom portions – I understand this is death/doom but the doom sections have little to no life in them.  When they transition to the faster, death-induced section (the second section of opener “House of Dripping Gore” is a good example) things kick into high gear, but when your song is seven minutes long it’s too long a wait to get to a spark of life in your track.  This trend continues until “Evil Haunts This Ground” which starts with the aggression and feels like a cohesive song.  “Black Candle Seance” works, too – there’s a good sense of forward propulsion that makes the dips into slower territory interesting, the harmonized guitars of Pete Slate and Ben Ross work really well.  With three short interludes that really only leaves a few tracks, all of which suffer from the same varying problems within the song: a little too long between signs of life, despite good performances and a killer delivery from Blakk.

druid lord band
Druid Lord

I really wanted more out this – Druid Lord have spent a long time crafting this followup and you can see the performances shine through.  We didn’t even talk about the cover…go back to the top of this review and gaze into its inky hate – it’s fabulous.  Unfortunately all the care that went into the art and the playing doesn’t save Grotesque Offerings from being a merely okay album that needs more “holy shit!” moments.

– Chris

Grotesque Offerings is available January 19 on Hells Headbangers Records.  For more information on Druid Lord check out their Facebook page.

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