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The Invocation

Ván (2012)
Rating: 5/10

Mmmm, Attic… now this is a tricky one. If you read my review of Ghost’s 2010 Opus Eponymous record (which a majority of “fans” would have probably scolded me for), you may get where I’m going to be coming from with this one.

Those of you who’ve read my reviews will know that I’m a culture vulture, stuck in the 80s and very early 90s metal scene, and while I can fully appreciate new bands, I get incredibly agitated to hear bands that only exist to imitate. For me, imitation could be described as flattery, but it also makes me want to resort to listening to the originals. In other words, it leaves me questioning the validity of a new release if it is so reliant on the past.

Attic are a strange brew indeed, and like Ghost, although sounding very different, they are shrouded in a bit of 80s-style metal mystery. The Invocation is the German band’s debut full-length album, and relies heavily on gothic atmospheres, organ-laced horror, and eerie mysticism. However, all I can really say is, if you’ve never heard of King Diamond, then Attic’s debut platter may be quite a refreshing album to you.

These guys will take you on a macabre journey into their esoteric crypts of metal, a place where crystal clear guitars whine, soar and spiral (‘The Headless Horseman’), and it’s a chapel full of unruly ghouls who like to ward off the spirits with their Hammer horror organs (‘Funeral In The Woods’). Vocally, The Invocation is a demonic shriek and banshee wail that punctures the ears, infiltrates the brain and whispers sweet nightmares.

All of this is great… if you have never heard King Diamond. However, if you have, then Attic are about as relevant as The Nolans. While it may be sweeter to describe them as an occult-influenced classic metal band, those who’ve heard King Diamond, and to a lesser extent, Mercyful Fate, will no doubt be screaming “Rip off!” at the stereo after this. And sad to say, they’d be right. From the lyrical themes of witchery, to the vocal screams, this makes Ghost’s attempts at imitation seem downright timid. For the most part Attic are a sub-standard King Diamond imitation that I just can’t get on with.

Personally, I don’t see how anyone in their right mind can look beyond the comparisons. Sure, it’s all metal at the end of the day, and very much darkly-tinged entertainment, but to separate this record from its “influences” is downright impossible, and so instead I find myself chuckling at the graven imagery of ‘Edlyn’ and ‘Evil Inheritance’ wondering why the band, when they delved into their record collections and Dennis Wheatley novels, couldn’t find something more original. And of course, after a very short while things begin to grate and I’m no longer interested in this opus as a separate entity, because I can’t find anything that enables it to stand as an entity in its own right.

Sure, the band can play, although, again, it’s a watered down version of King Diamond. And sure, vocal sorcerer Meister Cagliostro can sing, but it’s a case of someone on that old TV chestnut Stars In Their Eyes merely aping King Diamond. But what else can I really say? As if the Blue Öyster Cult mannerisms of Ghost weren’t enough, the metal genre is now becoming crowded with bands that are not just nodding to the past, but plagiarising it.

When one considers that all those years ago the band Kiss were appalled that King Diamond had “replicated” their make-up, I now wonder what Mr Diamond would think of this abomination. It’s hardly the same though, because the King Diamond band, apart from the theatrical make-up, were a real metal force, but on The Invocation I’m left with the same feeling I had after watching dire remakes of classic horror films such as The Fog and The Thing. Sorry, but The Invocation is pointless.

Neil Arnold

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