North Carolina’s Hour of 13 will be gracing San Antonio with their presence at the third Rites of Darkness festival, so to commemorate the occasion, the San Antonio Heavy Metal Examiner has taken it upon himself to review their self-titled debut, a masterpiece of old-school doom metal that deserves to be examined by any fan of the genre (as well as any attendee of the upcoming fest that is unaware of the band).
Hour of 13 waste no time initiating the listener into their dark realm, with the opening track, “Call to Satan”, standing out as the best song on the album, with Sabbath-influenced musicality and occult-themed lyrics showcasing the pure doom vibe that the band seeks to give off. The riffing is straight out of the ‘70’s, deriving obvious influence from the aforementioned Black Sabbath (although literally every single doom metal band owes Sabbath a huge debt) as well as acts like Pentagram, although with an updated touch that avoids the pratfalls of sounding “dated” or plagiaristic. The vocal styling of Phil Swanson is higher-pitched and exudes an air of uncertainty and worry, which is ideal for this kind of doom metal, sounding like a twisted devotee of the dark arts throughout the album’s duration. Every instrument on “Hour of 13” was handled by Chad Davis, who does an excellent job as a multi-instrumentalist, allowing each instrument its own voice, although the chief focus is easily on the guitar playing. If you are a guitar player interested in old-school heavy metal, you simply must look into the album, as Davis’s playing is too good to be missed out on, with exciting harmonies and catchy riffs that will be stuck in your head for days.
The production is very clear and the guitar tone packs a punch, with a crunchy tone that gives power to the album’s riffs. The bass is mixed well, with a low-slung vibe that plays off the guitar and drums quite nicely. The percussion mostly carries the beat, providing fills when appropriate, mostly sticking to a slower tempo as typical in doom metal. Standout moments on the album include the fuzzy arpeggios of “Endurement to the Heirs of Shame” (one of the most downbeat tracks on the album), the memorable and emotive solos of “Grim Reality”, and the evil swagger of “Allowance of Sin”, especially with the riff that begins around the 3:15 mark, which is powerful enough to instantly induce “throwing the horns”. The album closes with the eight-minute epic, “Missing Girl”, an eerie and unsettling composition that serves as one of the darkest pieces on the entire album. The song is filled with excellent riffing and harmonies that provide fine accompaniment to the vocals, which are even creepier than the rest of the album. The song builds to a dark climax to great effect, eventually ending with a giant power chord that fades to the song’s end, closing out the album in a perfect manner.
The album clocks in at about forty minutes, allowing just enough time for easy digestion and runs no risk of leaving the listener checking his watch and asking “is it over yet?” Quite simply, if you consider yourself a fan of doom metal, purchasing “Hour of 13” would easily be considered advantageous, and if you’re attending the third Rites of Darkness fest in December, catching their set would be highly recommended, especially since Phil Swanson has apparently rejoined the band according to a posting on the band’s official Facebook page. This album would also come recommended to fans of the newer wave of occult rock that has been gaining steam lately in the form of Ghost, The Devil’s Blood, and plenty of others, as “Hour of 13” bears many similarities to the aforementioned acts musically and lyrically. Basically, if you like your metal to be old-school and evil, then “Hour of 13” is just the album for you.
For more info: Check out Hour of 13 on Facebook.