Thursday, June 16, 2005

Doleful Lions - Shaded Lodge and Mausoleum review

Doleful Lions - Shaded Lodge and Mausoleum (2005, Parasol Records)

I had a vision while listening to this album. No shit. The very first time I took the new Doleful Lions out for a test drive, I had an honest to God vision. While listening to the second track, "Watch the Skies/A Boy's Life," I had a clear picture of a young woman standing in front of a stove in an apartment. She turned on all the burners and the oven, not intending to cook anything, but for the purpose of filling the apartment with gas. She then left the apartment, passing by the open door to the bedroom where her boyfriend was still asleep. End of vision. I have no idea what that means or why the hell that girl wanted to off her boyfriend. Needless to say, I was a bit shook up after that.

On a musical level, Shaded Lodge and Mausoleum is a beautiful piece of work recalling the warm acoustic psychedelia of the 60s. Fans of Nick Drake, Love, and the Beach Boys will find a lot to appreciate here. It's a gentle listening experience and I don't think I'd be too far off the mark to call it hypnotic. That's right, you'll find yourself hypnotized, floating on a cloud, in a peaceful musical cocoon... Until you realize what Jonathan Scott is singing about.

"Satanic blood/The wonders of love have gone away/Wake up to Lucifer's new day/Bringer of light/Champion night/Kiss the exalted Baphomet..."

What the fuck?

That's right. There's some sinister shit going on beneath all that beautiful music. Satanism, human sacrifice, and black magic all wrapped up in poetic romanticism. I wouldn't be surprised to find the complete works of Aleister Crowley on Scott's bookshelf along with a bootleg of Kenneth Anger's underground experimental occult films in his VHS player.

In the press release that accompanies the album Scott talks about his love for Bay area black metal band Von and their underground demo Satanic Blood, which was recorded in the late 80s and has since gained a cult following with Satanists and black metal devotees. Real black metal, where the band is creating the music as an act of worship, is truly frightening. The whole genre is nasty, violent, and revels in acts of brutality I can't support on any level. For some fascinating reading, check out Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Music Underground. The book tells the tragic and twisted tale of how some Norwegian bands took part in acts of church burning, suicide, and murder.

Anyway, Scott seems to be suggesting that this is his homage to Von. Now musically, Von and the Doleful Lions have zero in common. When it comes right down to it, black metal fans would probably consider the music of the Doleful Lions to be the epitome of pussy. In fact, they would probably kick Scott's ass and sacrifice him to their horned god if he showed up at one of their shows. On a musical level, black metal bands are simplistic and monotonous. Lyrically, aside from referencing Lucifer multiple times, these two bands also share nothing in common. Black metal bands have the lyrical prowess of cavemen. Jonathan Scott, on the other hand, is extremely well spoken, writing lyrics that Robert Plant wishes he could have written when Led Zeppelin's interest in the occult was at its peak.

It's been rumored that Von was a joke band. Give any black metal album a listen and you'll find it very hard to take seriously. This Doleful Lions album, on the other hand, is very difficult not to take at face value. No one would spend their time putting together such an accomplished piece of work if they didn't mean every word of it.

Shaded Lodge and Mausoleum is the best kind of album you can be sent as a reviewer. I can't even begin to tell you how many albums we receive on a weekly basis that evoke nothing more than a shrug. Who cares? I've heard a million other albums just like this one. Well, you haven't heard a million albums like a Doleful Lions album. It demands an opinion. I still prefer their last one, Out Like A Lamb, which is more varied both musically and thematically. But Satan or no Satan, I can't in good conscience not recommend Shaded Lodge. There's something extremely unsettling about singing love songs to Lucifer that sound like something Simon and Garfunkel would have put together. It's so much more insidious than Von and any other black metal band could ever have hoped to be.

Shaded Lodge makes me uncomfortable and it freaks me out. And you know what? That's a good thing.


Blogger Cut The Chord said...

Want to hear a clip of Von? Well here you go, courtesy of, umm, Lovely...

8:58 AM  
Blogger No Frontin' said...

this thing is hard to DL, i've been trying for weeks

4:59 PM  
Blogger TheKeenGuy said...

Well, I suppose you'll just have to go ahead and actually purchase it from Parasol. The tragedy!

8:16 PM  
Anonymous Von said...

yeah loser buy the damn thing. the art is awesome.

9:48 PM  
Blogger No Frontin' said...

loser? harsh! it was suppposed to be a subtle joke, sheesh.

2:35 AM  
Blogger Jdamen said...

No idea who Von is. loser was a bit harsh

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great album. I've enjoyed all of their releases but "motel swim" & "song cyclops 1" run a bit weak. Everything else is solid.

3:52 PM  

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