On their first full-length album “Bacchanale Premiere,” Finland’s Vinum Sabbatum strip their doom-flavoured hard rock right down to achieve a sonically sparse yet atmospheric 70s feel, reminiscent of Black Sabbath and early Judas Priest. This kind of retro-sounding production, currently also favoured by Swedish rising stars Ghost, fits perfectly with their raw and unpolished style. You know how Sabbath are heavy without technically being heavy? Yeah, that.
Though they have been labelled as doom, these influences are only really obvious on ‘Earthrise’ and ‘Vinum Sabbatum’, bookending what is otherwise a more straightforward rock ‘n’ roll album laced with organs and occasional ghostly wails. The former is the album’s opening track and at just over nine minutes it is a bit of a slow-burner, but it still showcases brilliantly the band’s sensibilities: spectral, squealing guitars, groovy bass, atmospheric sounds and excellent melodic vocals from Janne Salo. Salo’s voice is dark in tone, but warm, with a slight ‘wailing’ quality to it, like a less over-the-top Messiah Marcolin (ex-Candlemass).
The crucial element to get right with an album like this is pace – it’s only seven tracks and forty-five minutes long, but forty-five minutes of plodding doom can seem like an eternity. Luckily these guys get the balance just right. While the aforementioned tracks are slower and heavier, ‘Tombstone Rider’ is more upbeat, standout track ‘In And Out Of Faith’ is laden with riffs and ‘The Devil’s Cradle’ is straight-up rock ‘n’ roll that speeds up to a headbanging pace towards the end. The penultimate track on the album, ‘Culdremne’ sees the band show their softer side with delicate keys and hushed vocals.
All in all, ‘Bacchanale Premiere’ is a great slice of stoner-y Scandinavian psychedelia. Fans of Black Sabbath and Rainbow as well as contemporary throwback bands like Witchcraft, Ghost and Graveyard will dig this.