The Porcelain Throne: Reverend Bizarre and Opium Warlords
Welcome back to everyone’s favorite column that you probably forgot about! A few weeks ago, I started The Porcelain Throne for readers of the Toilet ov Hell to write in depth about their favorite bands that don’t get much air time. My request for submissions went largely unnoticed (probably because of the subject matter), but luckily our imaginary-land dwelling friend, Nordling Rites ov Karhu, had a great idea in mind. Dive into the depths of doom here, then submit your own ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was 2005, and I was increasing the size of my record collection – which is to say blind buying – when I came across In the Rectory of The Bizarre Reverend. Naturally, I assumed it was some sort of King Crimson worship and acquired the aforementioned album immediately. 75 minutes later, I was sorry I ever purchased it. There was no sign of KC to be found, lest we count the excessive song lengths (only two songs are under ten minutes). Reverend Bizarre was, indeed, a bizarre case. It’s doom metal alright, and a traditional variety of it, but I’d call it a modern version of traditional doom. Mainly because at all times Sami Albert Hynninen has his middle finger up and pointed at the doom legends, even when his practically chanting the names of his heroes on “The Goddess of Doom”. Dubbing himself Witchfinder, he played slower, longer and more torturous songs than anyone, ever. Reverend Bizarre was on his quest to show that he was better at everything than everyone else. And boy, did I learn to love it.
IN THE RECTORY OF THE BIZARRE REVEREND (2002)
Witchfinder and co.’s strength was never in diversity, but instead in the seeming lack of it. There was always a certain variety in the compositions, but like always when discussing RB, it takes time and effort to find it. They had decided to push the “play slow songs, long” mentality beyond its logical extreme. One could claim that with this effort, RB purified doom metal of all external influences. Skip to 18:00 to climax with the band.
Do yourself a favor and grab a copy of the over-an-hour-long EP Return to the Rectory as a second disc.
II: CRUSH THE INSECTS (2005)
Released with a sticker proclaiming them “The Biggest Sell-Out in True Doom” Crush the Insects is the place to start. It’s more upbeat an effort than anything else they recorded. The comparative easy-approachability of this album is also reflected in the song lengths. The longest of which doesn’t quite hit the fifteen-minute mark (albeit, an almost ten minute longer version of it was released as a single). To further abuse their selling-out, they released a video for “Doom over the World”, which is perhaps the easiest place to get in.
At this point, I feel it necessary to point out that the band, founded in 1995, was meant to release five albums, each slightly thematically different musically. Only three were ever released, but RB has gifted the world with 8 EPs and numerous splits. The curious thing about the EPs is that many are over an hour in length. The only reason it seems that these weren’t called full-lengths was because they were composed out of the thematic five LP concept, so there is plenty of music to get into.
III: SO LONG SUCKERS (2007)
The band went out with a bang. The year of their disbandment, they released a double album featuring over two hours of their most torturously dooming material. This ought to be your last call as it is a very hard one to get in, it even took me four years to really like it. The concept is the same as ever before but everything is more depressing, as S.A. Witchfinder Hynninen groans more tortuously and so forth. It’s to RB what RB was to doom, taken beyond its logical extreme. Tread with cautiousness. Doom What Thou Wilt.
(And do yourself another favor by familiarizing yourself with the compilation Death Is Glory…Now. It is the easiest way to get your hands on some songs from the splits and Thulsa Doom EP, which you won’t find, and is the only convenient way of acquiring Blood on Satan’s Claw and The Demons Annoying Me, some of their best songs. Okay now, bye bye then).
Reverend may be gone, but S. A. Hynninen remains and personally, I’ve always felt that he decided to continue RB’s legacy with Opium Warlords. Freed of the conceptual burden, he has released three more albums (and fourth is on the way).
LIVE AT COLOGNIA DIGNIDAD (2009)
Dark. That’s what this is, a really, really dark record probing the mindscapes of a demented lunatic. Doom metal is something this is not. It’s slow, it’s nightmarish, and occasionally covered with distortion. It’s agonistic, it reaches for uncharted waters and isn’t a stranger to drone either. It is a ritual. It is, once again, what the Reverend Bizarre stood for, taken beyond its logical extreme and released of the boundaries of form. Avant-garde doom psychedelia, if you will – playing on contrasts and atmosphere, more than on slow dirges, but not lacking in that department either. Check in at 5:05.
WE MEDITATE UNDER THE PUSSY IN THE SKY (2012)
This one is a much more demanding album than its predecessor, and leaning even more towards non-conventional means. There is noise and slowed down tones, experiments in psychedelia, and many other vibrant shades here. It is personally my least favorite, but essential nonetheless in understanding the whole. Have you ever wondered what it sounds like when Tibetan temple-bells meet noiserock? Then enter here! I feel the album is best represented by Slippy (below). Beginning as a threatening organs trundle onwards, soon transforming into primitive outbursts taking turns with minimalistic parts (2:12 – 3:07), until more melodic guitars (6:03) carry the song towards a doomy (8:45) end and a demented percussion outro (11:28). Possibly the most disturbed, darkest, and hardest record Hynninen has ever produced.
THE SELF-MADE MAN (2014)
This is the easiest OW record, and therefore a good place to start. There is more traditional doom influence to be heard here, which is not to say that this would be an easy album per se. Some of the songs were penned as early as 2002, as Hynninen often records songs a long time before they are released. This is one of the reasons that I feel these two bands should not be separated. The Self-Made Man feels like an effort to push the limits of heavy music towards light more than heavy. Take the electronic beats of The Land Beyond The Pole or the dying god screaming in God In Ruins, it is an encompassing experience. Now excuse me, I suddenly feel an urge to concentrate all my focus completely on this album.
I’ve compiled a list of some more interesting projects related to these (yes, there are more). OK now, bye bye then (for realz this time).
- March 15 (noise/ambient/industrial)
- Azrael Rising (black metal)
- KLV (noisecore/prog-goth-doom)
- The Puritan (Doom/Drone)
- Kimi Kärki’s (guitarist of RB) solo folk album
- Doom band Lord Vicar (with Ozz… Chritus Lindersson of Saint Vitus and Lord Raven)
I want to thank Nordling Rites ov Karhu for constructing this fine addition to The Porcelain Throne. Feel free to e-mail email@example.com whether you have a full article completed or just an idea, and let’s keep the toilet swirlin’.