No Help for the Mighty Ones
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4.23 | 12 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2011

Filed under Doom Metal


1. Borrowed Time, Borrowed Eyes (5:50)
2. Beneath the Crown (8:09)
3. Stonecarver (11:44)
4. The Inheritance (7:07)
5. Attack on Golden Mountain (9:14)
6. Whippoorwill (5:15)
7. House Carpenter (3:13)
8. Dark Country (8:23)

Total Time 58:55


- Dave Jones / Bass
- Zach Hatsis / Drums
- Rebecca Vernon / Guitars, Vocals
- Kim Pack / Violin, Vocals
- Sarah Pendleton / Violin, Vocals

About this release

Profound Lore

Thanks to triceratopsoil for the addition

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Many metal bands include one or two female members, but few have a majority-female lineup - and many of those seem to make a gimmick out of that (either by their own initiative or - as I suspect is more likely - at the prompting of their labels). SubRosa are a welcome exception, presenting a lineup on No Help For the Mighty Ones consisting of three women (including the two band co-founders Rebecca Vernon and Sarah Pendleton) but, in their material and in terms of the marketing, making this seem as though this is the most natural thing in the world rather than a quaint novelty or an opportunity to turn the female band members into eye candy.

Instead, the band offer an intriguing brand of folk-tinged Sabbath-inspired doom metal. Like Blood Ceremony, the band have hit on a way to do the whole stoner 70s revival thing without resorting to rote mimicry of past bands and fruitless ploughing of over-trod furrows by looking at the early 1970s music scenes and thinking "Which musical trends from back in those golden days could have fruitfully crossed over, but didn't?" In the case of Blood Ceremony, it was Sabbathy metal with Jethro Tull-influenced flute prog, whilst SubRosa mash up Sabbath with British folk rock in the tradition of the likes of Fairport Convention, Lindisfarne and Pentangle. The a capella version of the folk standard House Carpenter makes this especially apparent, but the twin violin action (!) of Sarah Pendleton and Kim Pack backing up Rebecca's powerful Tony Iommi riffs give all the tracks on here a unique flavour. It's not an instant classic but it certainly shows a lot of potential, and I look forward to see what they do in the future.
It is surprising how artists keep returning to the doom metal format. This oldest of all Metals may be very straightforward to play and write, but apparently its very direct and heavy emotional impact remains an endless source of inspiration. And inspiration is certainly the keyword to this release from SubRosa. Flirting with stoner, shoegaze, folk and indie, this band spices up their doom with an out-worldly space-rock feel, electric violins, majestic vocal melodies and ear-catching songs.

The first thing you come to note are the vocals, female vocals, often harmonically arranged, but nothing like the operatic gimmick that people have come to associate with metal and female vocals. The vocals here are forceful, but very natural, slightly indie, slightly folkish, slightly punk, reminding me of Kylesa's female vocalist actually. There are also some occasional male growls, but very sparse and subdued, offering an extra bit of power on some of the heaviest parts.

Next on the list of fresh elements in this band's sound is the electric violin, present in almost every track and offering the main melodic leads and some occasional freakish psychedelic outbursts. Together with the dynamic songwriting, Subrosa creates a unique style that is thoroughly catchy, and in places stunning and beautiful. The long songs often have a progressive or crescendo post-metal oriented structure, with very effective modulations or rousing finales that manage to turn around the doomy mood into something deeply moving and entrancing, ecstatic almost.

'No Help For The Mighty Ones' is the first 2011 album that manages to surprise me with its fresh approach. Add the excellent songwriting and that kind of sultry mood that I like so much and you're looking at a potential yearlist candidate. Doom and stoner fans should be listening right now, but also the metal crowd that's into dreamy shoegaze and electric violins are invited. 4.5 stars with an option for more. Thanks again Profound Lore records!

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