North Carolina Doom metal legends HOUR OF 13 return with their third, much anticipated record “333”. I had serious doubts whether this release would ever see the light of day, as at some point Phil Swanson left the band to focus on his other projects, leaving Chad Davis the only member of the band. Despite the hard times the band (or the duo if you prefer) is back together again and since they are signed on a major label, Earache, I can say that their future looks brighter than ever.
“333” follows the step of the two previous releases of the band. If you are a fan of Heavy Metal meets Doom, like WITCHFINDER GENERAL, PENTAGRAM, PAGAN ALTAR this album is simply made for you. The most noticeable difference is the cleaner more contemporary production of the record and perhaps the IRON MAIDEN influences which in this case seem more obvious. Actually, the entire album is close to the spirit of NWOBHM but in a darker and slower way.
The album opens with perhaps the weakest track of the album “Deny the Cross”. The track is not bad but it simply sounds common and predictable. After that you have an avalanche of great Doom tracks like “Spiral Vacuum”, “Whos to Blame”, “Rite of Samhain”. 90% of the tracks of the album are hits! Moreover, most songs include some wicked changes in tempo which give “333” much more depth.
The high pitched voice of Phil Swanson is one of the most characteristic of the genre and once again the man proves his talent on “333”.
When I first heard “333” I said that “The Ritualist” was a better record but after some non stop listening I can almost swear that “333” includes the most memorable and catchy material HOUR OF 13 ever wrote. Better or worse is up to you to judge but the fact remains: we are dealing with a great record here!