For the past few years The Well have been making the sort of detuned, scuzzy doom metal that goes down so well in the eerie months of October and November. As with so much doom metal, the guitar riff is worshipped like a deity here. Without an arsenal of formidable riffs, a band like The Well would fall flat. Fortunately vocalist/guitarist Ian Graham has no shortage of memorable guitar riffs.
Originality is not, generally, the order of the day in Doom and, as such, it’s more worthwhile to measure the success of an album like ‘Pagan Science’ by how well it’s executed rather than its overt individuality. The Well’s line of heritage has never been hard to surmise (genre mainstays such as Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard and Uncle Acid all readily come to mind); but more importantly, The Well really know their craft and ‘Pagan Science’, their sophomore effort, is their strongest set of songs to date.
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The rhythm section, comprised of Lisa Alley on bass and Jason Sullivan on drums, keep this set of headily psychedelic, fuzz drenched rockers firmly rooted in the ground. It’s a good thing too, because the liberal use of echo on both vocals and guitar threaten to fly off into space at any moment.
Lyrically, The Well cover some interesting ground. Most songs tell some form of macabre tale, often with plenty of occult symbolism and – of course – the obligatory references to Satan. At times, it’s arguably a little clichéd but it’s a lot of fun and the delivery is excellent.
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The album has a handful of standouts, but that’s not to say that it’s an inconsistent record. In fact, if a flaw had to be found in the album it would be that it’s sometimes too consistent. There’s a few moments of déjà vu throughout the album, moments where one song sounds a little too much like another that came earlier in the album.
Regardless, ‘Pagan Science’ is a great example of groovy, drugged-out stoner doom. It doesn’t innovate and, as such, it may not have the huge staying power of the genre’s true classics (Dopesmoker, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Dopethrone, etc.) but fans of the style will a get a lot from this album and the songs have enough substance that they won’t wear thin too soon.
‘Pagan Science’ is out now via Riding Easy Records.