Centurions Ghost, Blessed and Cursed in Equal Measure

Me, via The Soda Shop:

Reading a review, d’ya ever get impatient with the reviewer, wishing they’d just stop making flowery comparisons to justify their English degree and get to it?

Yeah, me too. So here, before the main review, is the concentrated review of London’s Centurions Ghost and their third full-length, Blessed and Cursed in Equal Measure:

POLISHED without being slick.

Memorable RIFFS that roar, storm and snarl.

Surprising amount of GROOVE from a doom metal band. Swinging.

Overall, crushing.

Still in? Then let’s expand:

Centurions Ghost (not to be confused with the dark, bitter British ale) are five dark, bitter Brits from London. They sound like Eyehategod meets Discharge. They sound like a sludgy Motorhead. They sound like Sabbath in Benzedrine withdrawal. Blessed and Cursed… is their newest full-length, after The Great Work.

With them, they bring riffs: detuned to C standard (the perfect metal tuning) they’re simple, and take full advantage of a hulking yet steely guitar tone– unlike say, black metal, which can tremolo pick like their right hands are drill bits, creating a wall of aggressive sound, doom and sludge metal do the opposite: they play only when necessary, flattening the surrounding landscape when when the time is right. It’s the difference between a plague of locusts and Godzilla.

Apocalyptically-speaking, I prefer Godzilla.

Caveat: overall, the album is uneven– not every song has the same quality, and they peak and slope. At their apex, though, Centurions Ghost write songs as good as anyone’s. Literally, anyone, from old Metallica on down.

Doom/ sludge/ stoner metal isn’t known for its songwriting chops, and that’s sometimes the point: there can be more sheer power in one riff that goes on for 12 minutes than in the standard intro/verse/chorus/ etc. scheme common to rock and pop music. Centurions Ghost manage to hit the best of both worlds, never sacrificing sheer sonic force for, dare I say it– “hooks.” You can hum these songs.

I am as we speak: the intro riff from track 2, “Blessed and Cursed,” has been my earworm for a few weeks now.

Production/ mix is also a selling point: I rarely notice them (as long as I can hear everything in the mix), but this is particularly clear. You can distinctly hear each part overlay another. I recommend listening to this with good headphones in a dark room, then in your vehicle of choice at jet engine volume. Both show the graceful horsepower of Blessed and Cursed.

Highlights: album opener “Powerful Sense of Dread,” the aforementioned “Blessed and Cursed,” “A Born Leader,” and “Hyena Circle.” The remainder of the album is still good, but these four track are simply great, and make the whole album worth getting.

Now if they’d only tour the States….

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