On their long-awaited debut, Through Shadow and Flame, Lord of the Rings worshipping American doom metal outfit Olórin delivers the epic soundtrack to Gandalf the Grey’s battle with the fire demon dwelling in the mines of Moria.
Named for the initial moniker of Gandalf the Grey – formed in 2009 in Washington, Illinois. Following the release of a demo, live album and two EPs, the band’s line-up and sound have cemented. Featuring vocalist Clay Sibley, guitarist Michael Schmidt (White Stallion), guitarist Collin Wolf (Smoulder & Fer de Lance), drummer Kevin Hester (Smoulder), and bassist Ryan Donoho, the quintet are a perfect candidate for the circle of true doom: doom played low, slow, and true.
I’m not a big enough fan of Lord of the Rings to perhaps take what others might out of this but I can certainly appreciate what Olórin are doing here. The soundtrack to a famous battle in old-school doom style is a very exciting thing and Olórin certainly transport the listener into J.R.R. Tolkien’s world.
They take a methodical approach and every note has such impact. The kind that you feel in your bones but thanks to the clean, old-school doom vocals don’t weigh things down. Though that’s not to suggest they aren’t capable of having a bit more energy when required. Early on, with the opening tome that is Black Chasm, the sudden pep in their step is a surprise but a welcome one as it increases the feeling of danger.
Be under no illusions though, Through Shadow and Flame is all about doom though and the tempo often reflects that. Descension has chunky, coarse rhythm and offers no moments of respite from the darkness. Ringwe showcases a wide array of head-banging riff work, sinister bass, powerful drums and epic vocals.
Infusions of dark melody add to the exhausting nature of The Endless Stair, the climb upwards done with feet made of stone. Before Durin’s Tower shows some heavy metal life with an energetic tempo throughout and Mornië sets up the finale with a short slice of fantastical and hopeful melody. The finale being The White Rider and it just coming in slightly short of 10 minutes.
You know it’s going to be a doom epic but just how much of a doom epic is it? Take everything you’ve heard from Olórin so far but maximise the impact of the instruments. Then throw in some captivating symphonic-esque effects and double the lavish power of the vocals. Take all of this and you’re someway to describing the epic sound that this closing track has.
It’s a great album and that’s coming from someone who isn’t capable of appreciating the LOTR detail as much as others will.
Olórin – Through Shadow and Flame Full Track Listing:
1. Black Chasm
4. The Endless Stair
5. Durin’s Tower
7. The White Rider
Olórin - Through Shadow and Flame (Rafchild Records)
The Final Score - 8/10