Albert Bell is responsible for the bass and songwriting with Doom Metal titans Forsaken and Nomad Son. Having known Albert for more years than I can remember, I was aware that his musical interests go beyond the Doom genre. Sacro Sanctus gives him an opportunity to explore some of those very interests.
“Ad Aeternum” is already Albert Bell’s 2nd solo full-length effort, coming hot on the heels of the debut “Deus Volt” (an album that I have yet to hear). His FaceBook page describes Sacro Sanctus’ music as ‘Primeval, blackened old school heavy doom metal’ and I must say that that is an accurate description of “Ad Aeternum”.
The guttural and acrimonious singing seems in part inspired by Venom’s Cronos. Musically, there’s also a strong epic vibe coming from Bathory’s shadows. Motörhead and Saint Vitus are two other points of reference that came to my mind from time to time. The fuzz-laden sound is a defining characteristic of the album and one which I found to be ideally suited to Albert’s compositions.
That Albert Bell is not a guitarist by nature might, to some extent, account for the guitar’s lack of punch. However, the great thing is that he manages to assimilate all his qualities into the songwriting style and music compositions creating an album that is honest and unpretentious.
Another fascinating aspect of this album is its conceptual lyrics, which continue from where Albert’s debut album ended. The setting is the 12th century AD when the Knights’ Templar is valiantly fighting to defend Christianity from the Muslim sultanate. However, the order’s biggest threat comes from its own allies, a result of which the Order resorts to alchemical magick. The lyrics, mostly written from a 1st person perspective, are inspired by actual events indirectly linked to the history of Malta, Albert Bell’s own country of origin.
But back to the music…further album highlights: ‘Hex And Heresy’ is one of the most persuasive songs, incidentally it’s also where Albert Bell’s Doom credentials really come to the fore. ‘The Messenger’ uses a psychedelic middle-section to accentuate the heavier sections of the song. ‘Invocation Of Twilight’, with its galloping rhythm, just grabs your head and shakes it frenetically.
To be honest I don’t think “Ad Aeternum” is an easy album to listen to. Black Metal fans might find it dragging and Doom fans might have a hard time warming to the abrasive vocals. On the other hand, these same factors contribute to the album’s character, fascination and genuinity. So…which way will it be for you?
Playing Time: 56:27
Release date: April 29, 2016
Label: Metal On Metal Records