• JPR

Alms- "Act One" Released


This past winter we spotlighted the first demo from Baltimore-based retro-doom outfit Alms after a coworker of mine, who knows from the never ceasing stream of metal coming from my laughably small cubicle that I have excellent taste in music, shared their first two songs with me. At that time we knew that Alms was in the process of finishing up their debut LP but had no idea just how close they were. Well, as you might have now guessed, Act One by Alms is out now on Shadow Kingdom Records and this may very well be Alms' first and last independent release. Opening with 'Dead Water,' a track built around Derrick Hans' cavernous bass drum, Jess Kamen's organ tone that's borrowed (read: stolen) from the late great Jon Lord, and Bob Sweeney's and Kamen's dual male and female vocals that coalesce to become coherent Ozzy, the track is a plodding, evil slice of doom metal that could not do a better job of preparing the listener for the rest of the album: 5 more tracks of the most genuine hard rock/proto metal in my collection, regardless of what decade it was made in. 'The Toll' follows and what begins as an up-tempo rocker descends into 3/4 time sludge where Sweeney's and Danny McDonald's guitar, which calls to mind both Iommi and Blackmore, rolls like dense fog through the verses and soars with Sweeney's and Kamen's ridiculously engaging vocal harmonization in the chorus'. The almost painfully slow (in a good way) verses only serve to accent the urgency of the vocal delivery when it takes over. I'm a total sucker for this type of tempo fluctuation and Alms have deftly incorporated it throughout the album, creating a sound that demands attention in the process. The Rainbow/Nugent-esque 'For Shame' finds Sweeney doing his best Michael Poulson (Volbeat) while Kamen haunts just a step below him in the mix; the specter of her vocals adding both depth and range in the process. Having listened to Act One +/- two dozen times since its release last month I can tell you that the album simply would not work without their voices working so harmoniously together. Though I'd like to have heard both take more than a measure or two on their own, I can't begin to complain about this very unique and engaging dynamic. Favorite track? There's almost always one, and here it's 'The Offering,' which astute Metal Abyss readers will remember from Alms' demo. The vocal arrangement, played against the synchronous organ and guitar would carry the day on their own; but add in a riff that sounds like you set the speed on your turntable to 33 when you're spinning a 45 of For Whom the Bell Tolls and an organ solo that may actually be 30 seconds of lost tape from Deep Purple's Child in Time and you've got a song- a really, really good song. But for the fact that we're stuck in 2018 and this is how you hear about great music, there is literally no other reason why the Offering is not on constant rotation on your local terrestrial radio station. Low points? In all honesty, there isn't one. Though a quick listen (Act One clocks in at a tick under 35 minutes), this album offers every indication that with their roots planted firmly in the golden age of heavy metal, Alms is just getting started. You can get yourself a copy of Act One via Alms' Bandcamp page. Available in both digital and (appropriately enough) vinyl forms at the moment, I have it on good authority that CDs are coming later this year. Though my preferred format for music is the compact disc (blasphemy, I know), the vinyl is awful tempting given the fact that Justin Stubbs' album art is the best I've seen all year by a long shot. Be sure to drop by Alms' Facebook page to see if they'll be coming to a town near you. Drop by ours to let us know what you think of Act One and whether or not the editor and I should start a Rainbow tribute band. We'd do a killer version of Tarot Woman. Rage on! JPR

Alms- "Dead Water" Demo Video

#alms #shadowkingdomrecords

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