I had only heard of this band before, because of the underground hype after the release of their debut ‘Constantinople’ in 2012, but had yet to hear their music. They spent a lot of time touring after their debut was released, sharing stage with bands like Old Man Gloom, Neurosis, Boris, the Obsessed and Deafheaven. My initial interest was partly because of vocalist / bassist Sera Timms’ involvement with the brilliant but now defunct desert/doom rock outfit Black Math Horseman.Not that I expected a part two of that band, but I like to check out new projects when a band splits up.
She offered an extra layer of mystique to their occult inspired, atmospheric desert jams, and now that she handles lead vocals in Ides Of Gemini, its a bit more indulgent in that occultish atmosphere. ‘Old World, New Wave’, is full of riffs that could’ve fit right in with any occult themed seventies hard rock band. Yes this is definitely riff-driven guitar rock, but the hardest emphasis is on the vocals which gives this rather basic guitar/bass/drum sound and extra dimension. Mostly when you hear female vocalists in metal/rock bands they’re either growling just like any other dude, or they’re still doing the 80s thing. Sera Timms has a powerful voice that could easily bring Lita Ford or any of the 80s rock female royalty to their knees.
But she also knows when to take it down a notch, and it doesn’t sound forced whether she’s in the lower register or on the almost operatic like high notes. The backing vocals of drummer Kelly Johnston-Gibson gives the vocals a choir like occult dynamic. The guitarwork by Jason Bennett is a mix of rock and metal riffs heavily rooted in the seventies, but the simplicity of the playing gives it more of a punk edge instead of the seventies show-off attitude.The drumming is minimalistic, in lack for better words, more inspired by nineties alt-rock girl bands than Bill Wyman, or John Bonham.
When I first put this album on it felt refreshing, first song ‘Black Door’ sets the tone for whats to come with its mystic, majestic vocals over the simplistic guitars and beats. But then the songs kind of blend into each other without you ever noticing, as theres hardly ever a change of pace. They do take it a bit down at times, like on ‘May 22 1453’, but they never really take it up an extra notch.
Sure, there are some moments where the guitar gets a little more adventurous but it always leaves you wanting more. I cant help but feel a little disappointed as my first impression was that this was something really unique, and in some ways it is, but it generally leaves me wondering what it would be like if they were to explore more within the confides of what they’re doing. The atmosphere they create with simplistic heavy rock and a focus on powerful vocal duties could be taken to greater heights, but instead it feels like they’re holding back.
Maybe this is intentional, But i still cant help feeling how this record could’ve been better with more exploring, more dynamics, more everything. Especially when you have those majestic powerful vocals upfront you need the music to match that amount of power. Viewed as a whole, the album has its moments but overall its quite forgettable, and just leaves me dissatisfied. As I mentioned theres lots of good atmosphere but sadly theres not enough substance.