Review: EMPEROR GUILLOTINE’s Self-Titled Slab of Doom

Emperor Guillotine plays doom metal in the vein of Black Sabbath, freely unleashes piano and keyboard notes like prog nerds. Brainchild of Ben Randolph, Emperor Guillotine rides out the retro sound on the self-titled album, utilizing 40 years of music to work from. Reminders of better groups pop up during the album, and a true identity is hard to distinguish. However, the band puts up a formidable doom sound, enough to win over those hesitant for yet another band trying to bring the ‘70s back.

“Emperor Guillotine” could very well be a part of the early doom metal circle, with its vivid cover art and fuzzy production. The band nails down the spirit of what made doom metal back in the ‘70s so adventurous and unpredictable. Randolph likes to give each song ample time to space out. Punctuality isn’t a strong point, though a listener may wish that to be the case with a few of the songs.

He doesn’t get lost in his own head, but tends to stretch out ideas longer than they need to go. “Sailor on the Seas of Fate” has an energetic start thanks to some inventive drum work, only to be shut down by minutes of dragged-out riffs at the end. “Sea of Dust” saunters around a menacing pace that, like Black Sabbath, takes an inordinate amount of time to get to the next gear. “The Oak and the Ram,” on the other hand, is a burning success that keeps right to the point.

“Witch Mountain” and “The Bastille” get the album going in a positive light, with a stomping doom beat aligning with prominent bass and cymbal-work. “The Unearthly” gets into a comfortable groove after almost three minutes of ambient noodling.

Emperor Guillotine takes the love of Black Sabbath, as well as many other luminaries of ‘70s metal/rock, and turns it into an enjoying romp on this long-player. The one-man band could tighten up their songs, but it’s not a total wash for fans of the older style of doom metal.

The album is available from Bandcamp. You can follow Emperor Guillotine on Facebook.