Dread Sovereign – Alchemical Warfare (Metal Blade)

Nemtheanga – aka Dubliner Alan Averill – has so much metal in his veins it’s practically ingrained in his bone marrow.

The vocalist has spearheaded celtic metallers Primordial since 1991, bowed to Bathory with Twilight Of The Gods and plunged into blackened extremity with Blood Revolt.

His love of heavy metal’s roots is well documented.

And in Dread Sovereign, he digs deep into the iron flecked soil for inspiration.

Completed by guitarist Bones and drummer JK (who also mans Conan’s kit), the Irish outfit revelled in dramatic, slow burn misery on their excellent debut, All Hell’s Martyrs, but its follow-up, 2017’s For Doom The Bell Tolls, felt like a stop-gap record, lacking the coherence which graced its predecessor.

Alchemical Warfare, is a different story.

This is where the band’s proto-metal, psych, doom and Venomous strands come together in harmony, where Nemtheanga unleashes his distinctive, passionate vocals over some damn fine heavy metal, and where anthemic songs like Nature Is The Devil’s Church are let off the leash to wreak havok.

Dread Sovereign show their steel

Yes, there are trippy, disorientating doom-outs like Ruin Upon The Temple Mount on this record, but they’re held in an armour-plated grip.

And there’s far more focus on earthy, rabble rousing songwriting than we’ve heard before from Dread Sovereign…

She Wolves Of The Savage Season may be more than ten minutes long, but after a few minutes of Iommian psych, the pace is upped and the riffs ignite, paving the way for a triumphant chorus. Her Master’s Voice struts to a low-slung, Liebling/Griffin groove, while at the same time sounding like it was built for an arena stage. And Devil’s Bane sees Nemtheanga – who also wields a mighty bass for Dread Sovereign – prove that he’s one of the best frontmen Venom never had.

The gnarly Motörpunk of closing middle finger You Don’t Move Me (I Don’t Give A Fuck) feels a little throwaway, but the remainder of Alchemical Warfare is a bubbling concoction of sinister, elemental heavy metal, which should be essential listening for the genre’s acolytes.  

Dread Sovereign always seemed to be headed in this direction.

And we’re glad they got there.

Dread Sovereign