Doctrine: first step on a long dark (and hopefully fruitful) journey in the Left Hand Path

Qayin Regis, Doctrine, Spain, BlackSeed Productions, SEED052 CD / vinyl (2019)

With a name that includes the Hebrew form of “Cain”, the name of the son of Adam and Eve who killed his younger brother and as a result was condemned to wander for the rest of his life, you’d expect this bunch of MadrileƱos to choose the Left Hand Path as their inspiration and blackened death metal as their musical medium of expression, right? Of course you’re right! And of course you’d expect these guys to release their debut album on 31 October 2019, right? Right again!!! What else can we expect? Can we expect that they’ll be a humongous metal machine breathing a peculiar mixture (we’re talking music, not physics here) of intense fires straight from the sulphurous furnaces of Hell and freezing ice atmospheres from the Ninth Circle of Sheol, backed by nuclear-powered percussion and layers upon layers of incessant mechanical guitar shredding noise?

Well no, Qayin Regis are only human after all and “Doctrine” is their first album and second release so they have a fair way to go before their potential is fully realised. In the meantime we can all start building our respective nuclear bunkers for that inevitable day. The challenge Qayin Regis have set themselves – they are currently a trio who prefer to stay obscure – is embedded in four long songs of esoteric dark occult black metal ritual combining elements of thrash, death metal and black metal. Rhythmic industrial factory ambient effects and acidly venomous doom guitars introduce the band’s reign of terror across 40+ minutes: the trio’s actual style includes rapid-fire drumming that changes pace throughout most tracks and tends to determine whether the dominant music is thrash, doom or death-influenced; jangly guitar tones; a grinding bass that gives the music a heavy feel; and most of all, coldly slavering reptilian growls and groans coming out of a deep underground cave labyrinth. The music is slightly reminiscent of Deathspell Omega in parts but without that band’s fiendishly complex jazz-influenced musical arrangements or feverish speed; instead a cold-space ambience is ever-present and no matter how fast the music is, it never feels chaotic or overwhelming. Brief passages of wheezing machinery ambience allow listeners opportunities to catch their breaths and mentally keep up with the music and catchy bass riffs and grooves keep the music on an even keel.

Halfway through the album, “Neenia ataecina” brings in a dark brooding acoustic side that edges towards an epic doom climax with thumping drums before the usual blackened thrash starts up again. The last couple of songs bring nothing new that wasn’t already heard in the first half of the album and the music can be a bit repetitive in parts.

As first albums go, “Doctrine” is a solid work with good and consistent musicianship and a distinct cold and malevolent sound. The drumming could be heavier and tracks could do with moments of thunderous percussion at crucial moments. The vocals rarely rise above generic cold-blooded swamp monster grizzle and internecine fights between reptiles for the best nest in their lagoon, and need to be more varied in sound and delivery. Maybe they should try setting each other on fire in their rituals and ceremonies of sacrifice and there’ll be some truly nerve-wracking and unholy sounds. Slight Middle Eastern influences can be heard in the guitar playing and maybe QR could bring these influences out more in future performances and studio works.

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