There's no riff too big for the dudes of Olde. On the Toronto doom-metal band's debut album, I, the five members approach their sound as if they're trying to corral a herd of woolly mammoths into a tractor trailer — every minute of tape is saturated with in-the-red guitar distortion and full-bodied drum fills, topped off by singer Doug McLarty's gravelly bellow. While they're clearly working with the same sonic DNA as Black Sabbath, rather than simply recreating a familiar musical behemoth, Olde add their own mutations, maximizing the impact of every riff by slowing down the tempos and letting those big open chords ring out whenever they get the chance.

It helps that all this massiveness is expertly captured by guitarist/producer Greg Dawson (it was recorded in his BWC studio), who balances natural sounding warmth with biting clarity — you can almost feel every note punching its way out of the speaker. Anthemic bangers like "Rise Before the Fall" and the sludgy "Rebirth" are reminiscent of the heavier side of Pantera/Crowbar collaboration Down, while the bluesy guitar solos throughout add a touch of classic-rock melody. Olde occasionally slip into well-worn grooves — the Sabbath vibe is sometimes a little too overt, while the back half of "Flies" comes across like a doom version of Stone Temple Pilots' "Vaseline" — but those are minor flaws in an otherwise solid collection of tunes.

As their name suggests, Olde are veterans of the local heavy music scene — the band members have played in Moneen, Sons of Otis and JAWW, among others — but with age comes wisdom and, in this case, the ability to craft some timeless doom metal. (Hypeathral)
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